Once upon a time, kids spending time in the kitchen was mostly about the chance to lick the cake beaters.
Don’t get us wrong, that’s still very important, but these days helping out with the cooking is also a chance for kids to grow and inspire their knowledge through STEM learning.
What is STEM?
STEM is a learning and development approach that emphasises the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics on young minds.
Through STEM, children engage creatively in real-world problems and look for solutions and outcomes in integrated and innovative ways.
Kleenheat is proud to partner with Scitech to deliver the Kwinana STEM Network program helping local school teachers create integrated STEM lesson plans – and if you’re looking to add a little more STEM thinking at your place, these tips can help engage and inspire bright young minds in the kitchen.
Growing your own herbs (Science)
There’s something satisfying about putting homegrown produce to good use in the kitchen – but the growing part is where STEM learning comes alive.
Get started with a small herb garden in a planter or using spare gardening pots – explaining how seedlings need rich soil, sunlight and water to grow into tall, healthy plants.
Track your herb garden’s progress, taking photos and explaining growth phases along the way, or experiment with different growing locations to see if they help or hinder progress.
Go for a variety of herbs to see how plants grow in different ways, then put them to good use in the kitchen for added flavour.
A handful of basil in pasta sauce, sprinkling finely-chopped rosemary over oven-baked potato wedges or adding mint leaves to a glass of cold water for a refreshing twist? Yum
Cooking up some tech thinking (Technology)
Advancements in kitchen technology mean we’re spending much less time over a hot stove these days.
Bringing the kids up to speed on the basics in kitchen technology is a great way to inspire STEM thinking – be it the basics on kettles, toasters, fridges or ovens.
But if you really want to inspire thinking in older kids, consider a crash course on the microwave oven.
In simple terms, microwave ovens work by passing microwave radiation through food. Water molecules in the food absorb this energy, which causes them to react and move – creating heat.
Make sure you also cover some general microwave safety tips for the kids, including how different foods react with the microwave in different ways.
Sure, kitchen technology’s come a long way, but saving time when cooking comes down to the basics. Check out these five kitchen essentials you need in your life.
Design and build a playdough project (Engineering)
Got a young budding engineer in your household? Engage their innovative side by challenging them to construct a bridge using playdough – guiding them through any hurdles along the way.
Using playdough is a valuable sensory experience, and throwing a handful of popsicle sticks or straws into the mix will provide extra inspiration to support play learning.
Whipping up a fresh batch of playdough is a cinch (and letting kids help with measuring ingredients will add an extra dose of STEM learning).
Just pop one cup of plain flour, half a cup of salt and two tablespoons of cream of tartar into a bowl – then mix in half a cup of water, a tablespoon of oil and a few drops of food colouring.
Stir over heat until a dough forms, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Store for several weeks in an air-tight container.
A little bit of this, a little bit of that (Measurement)
Are you a stickler for following recipes to the letter, or prefer to go with what feels right?
If you’re keen to get the kids involved in the kitchen, having them follow a specific recipe is a great way to challenge their thinking with a range of measurements.
Baking is a great way to emphasise the importance of accurate measurements, as too much or too little of one ingredient can often make all the difference.
Whipping up a simple butter cake with the kids is an excellent way for them to practice taking accurate measurements using a range of different ingredients and utensils.
Let them set the correct oven temperature and, once your cake tin’s baking away, track the cooking process together.
If you’re looking for more STEM learning inspiration, the WA Department of Education has plenty of handy information and tips for bringing STEM to life at home.
Grab a Scitech family memberships and inspire more STEM learning!
Scitech is WA’s family-friendly destination for anyone sharing a passion for STEM – or those simply feeling a little science-curious.
Feed a passion for science in every part of their ever-evolving program of exhibitions and exhibits, experiences, shows, workshops and year-round events.
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