My 10 year old son, Ethan, and I had fun in the kitchen this morning making pies for Thanksgiving. It was a great way to learn about food science. We decided to make a Lemon Meringue Pie. First, we needed to look at the formula (recipe) and talk about all the ingredients that we needed. We uses several types of measurements - liquid measuring in ounces, solid measuring in measuring cups and spoons (next time we'll try using a recipe with weights), and counting of individual items (such as eggs). When mixed together the ingredients for the filling we talked about the chemical changes that were occurring in the pot as the ingredients bubbled together and thickened. As we whipped the egg whites we talked about physical change as the molecules captured the air and coated the air bubbles. It was a great way to reinforce what he is learning in his 5th grade class without it feeling like homework. The best part is you get to eat the results!
Looking for a few more experiments for physical and chemical changes? Here's a related blog post you might like at Owlcation.
Debbi graduated with a Culinary Arts Degree from Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island.
It has been another busy fall SPLASH season travelling to different New England Universities for my son to attend their SPLASH programs. We spend about every weekend for a month on the road for these wonderful programs. This season started with classes at Northeastern University and ended today at MIT SPLASH in between were visits to Brandeis, Amherst College & Boston College. There was exposure to Business Philosophy, Budgeting, Behavioral Economics, Programming in Python, Unity 3D, The Art of Strategy and we can't forget Rubics Cube 101. These classes are just sampling, most just one hour, but it the opportunity to explore so many topics that makes attending SPLASH so worthwhile. Having students as teachers makes them relatable as they're just a few years older than these middle and high school students. Thank you to all the students volunteers that make these programs possible! I'm sure we will see you again in the spring for the next round of SPLASH!
If your kids are attending MIT SPLASH this weekend, you might be tempted to just drop them off and enjoy the free time or catch up on all the things you haven't been able to get to. Though it may be tempting, I would like to suggest that you reconsider. MIT has one of the best SPLASH Parent Programs. While your kids are learning all kinds of interesting things, parents have a chance to do some learning as well. One program that I have attended that I would rate as a do not miss is "Seven Common Flawed Assumptions About College Admissions" by Amy Estersohn. Chances are if you child is attending SPLASH, there is a good likelihood that they are thinking about heading to college after they graduate. This seminar is presented by a former admissions officer and give some great insight to the college admissions process. The MIT Admissions Office also offers an information session.
During the weekend you'll have the opportunity to take a sample class. Have you ever wondered about "Superman/woman and Science Fiction/Fantasy" or wanted to learn about "Household Chemistry for the Biologist"? Now is your chance.
Here's a tip, get there early, the seats at the parents session fill up quickly. The parent program is also an opportunity to meet some of your peers, look around the room, these are people a lot like you (come on, admit it, how many other families do you know that choose to spend their weekend driving to colleges and taking classes?). While you're waiting, why not introduce yourself to the parent next to you, you already know you have something in common and you may make a new friend.
You could see the excitement as the boys in Cub Scouts Pack 16 entered Dutch Kitchen Bakery and gazed into the display case loaded with all kinds of delectable treats. They were soon whisked downstairs to the decorating room, where on the tables were all the fixings for gingerbread houses. Each boy had the chance to create their own masterpiece. They didn't know that even this activity had a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) connection. Building a gingerbread house could be their first exposure to civil engineering which includes the design and building of structures. As they decorated, they worked through creating patterns in their designs. While they toured the bakery, they used math to calculate how many cakes could be baked at a time in all those ovens. They guessed 9 cakes per oven and multiplied it by the 12 ovens to come up with 108 cakes. They learned that recipes are formulas of ingredients and the weighted scales are for measurements. All the boys knew is they were having fun, as a mom it made me realize how many opportunities are around us which expand STEM learning.
it An early morning picturesque fall drive brings us to Amherst College for their SPLASH program, which is offered for students grade 6-12. While my son's brain is probably throbbing as he is learning Quantum Mechanics (yes, I am proud to admit my son is smarter than me), I sit quietly in the library taking in the beautiful view of the autumn colored leaves and the open space of the quad. The Amherst College campus has a feel like no other we have visited, it is like taking in a breath of fresh air, it has a calm and relaxed feel. Its SPLASH program is smaller than many, which is appropriate for this small college, but that doesn't make it any less valuable. You can learn about fractal geometry by creating wire tree sculptures? What is fractal geometry? No worries, I had to look that up too! They offer courses from Neuroscience, Physics, Chemistry to Origami, Watercolor, Arabic and Jazz - a little something for everyone. There isn't a parent program here, but there is time to do a little exploring. I visited the farmer's market where there was a nice selection of fresh produce, honey, maple syrup. Last visit, I discovered The Glazed Donut, it was a must revisit so I could purchased some special treats for home like a French Toast Donut.
Many people thinking about how to introduce STEM education to their children think about having them learn coding, working with circuits, performing science experiments and many other hands on indoor activities. Don't forget to think "outside" the box and look to our National Parks. There are so many great opportunities to discover and learn, make sure to check out the Jr. Ranger Program, typically for kids age 5-13, though open to all ages. Kids complete activities while in the park and earn a Jr. Ranger Certificate and either a badge or a patch. Some of amazing places that we have been that I would highly recommend:
There are so many more amazing places to explore, but I will save those for another post, in the meantime, what is your favorite national park and why?
Debbi - Proud mom of two beautiful boys who have benefited from some amazing STEM opportunities!