Getting STEAM-y in the Kitchen: Hands-On Activities for Students

STEAM subjects are slowly taking over the world (and our curriculum!). But, it’s not all math problems and worksheets. STEAM subjects are a great opportunity to let students get hands-on with their homework.

Science

Yeast is pretty amazing. It takes in sugar and exhales carbon dioxide, kind of like breathing. Those little bubbles get caught in the dough, making it rise and get all fluffy and delicious. That’s why we let the dough rise: to give the yeast time to breath!

Follow the recipe to create simple French bread rolls and notice how the carbon dioxide bubbles appear in the warm water!

STEAM, rolls made with yeastIngredients:

1 ½ cups warm water
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
3 ½-4 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions:

Mix the water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl. Let it sit for 3-4 minutes until foamy.

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Add vegetable oil and yeast mixture. Stir until it’s slightly sticky; pour onto a floured surface. Knead for 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let rise for 1 hour.

Split dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Place the rolls in a 9×13 inch greased pan spaced evenly. Rise 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400° F and bake for 15-18 minutes.

 

Technology

One piece of technology that just about every kitchen has is a thermometer. Help your student become familiar with this piece of technology by making caramel sauce!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter

Instructions:

Add sugar and water to a saucepan. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to boil. Stop stirring. However, monitor the temperature. Keep it between 320-335°F.

When it looks golden, add cream and butter. Stir and heat until desired texture. Pour over apples or enjoy as an ice cream topping.

 

Engineering

How much weight can a spaghetti noodle really hold? They’re awfully brittle, and yet, when combined with many, they can support a surprising amount of weight. Test out those noodles with this experiment

Materials needed:
Uncooked spaghetti noodles
2 Styrofoam circles (1 in. diameter; 2 in. thick)

Instructions:

Begin with one foam circle and 1 noodle. Poke the noodle into the foam so it sticks straight up. Test how much weight it can support by placing a book on top. Very likely, it will snap.

Add 20 pieces of spaghetti in the same way. Test the strength again with a book. These will also probably snap fairly easily.

Now, poke 60-80 noodles into the foam circle. Place the second circle on top of the noodles. Finally, stack books on the top circle. Record your observations and create a theory about how the weak noodles supported so much weight.

 

Art

The next time you’re looking for an art project, look no further than your kitchen! Make cakes, cookies, or cupcakes using your favorite recipes. Then, pass out the sprinkles and frosting! Use piping bags and different tips to make designs and textures; use food coloring to create a rainbow of possibilities! You can also create your own play dough to create your very own sculptures! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup water

Optional:
food coloring
vanilla or other flavorings for scent

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the flour, salt, cream of tartar, and water. Mix thoroughly and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Set onto a cutting board or wax paper to cool for a moment until the dough is at the right temperature for handling. Knead for 5 minutes, adding the food coloring and scents if preferred. Keep in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

STEAM, frosting

 

Mathematics

There’s nothing quite like a cookie to brighten someone’s day. But, what if you don’t want to make several dozen at once? What if you just wanted one cookie?

Have your student choose their favorite cookie recipe from family recipe books or even online sources. Then, use division, ratios, and unit conversions to figure out how much of each ingredient they’d need to make just one perfect cookie.

Test it out to check the answer!