NEA Parents' Resources

STEM Lessons in the Kitchen

Get your apron and your chef’s hat ready, we are headed into the kitchen for this one! Believe it or not, the kitchen is a place that inspires many lessons centered around science, math, technology, and engineering that you can teach your children. Read on to find out how you can practice STEM while making a tasty dish in the kitchen.

  1. Calculate the Cost

The first lesson of cooking comes far before we need to break out the oven mitts. While shopping can be a tedious chore, it is also an opportunity to keep your child engaged in the process and test their addition skills. Bring along a pencil and paper and have your child add up the cost of your groceries as you go through the aisles.

  1. Take Accurate Measurements

One thing cooking and science both require is precision in taking accurate measurements. Whether it is measuring chemicals in a graduated cylinder or ingredients in a measuring cup, it is important to develop the precision to read the correct measurements at the meniscus line. Be sure to practice taking accurate measurements with your child using a variety of ingredients and across various measuring utensils.

  1. Test Conversion Techniques

Converting between measuring amounts can be a great way to test your child’s math skills while cooking. Try giving your child a guide between the measuring amounts and testing their ability to accurately measure the correct amount. For example, if a recipe calls for a cup of water, you could ask your child to fill up 16 tablespoons, 4 quarter cups, or 2 half cups. You can even do a fun craft project with them to help them remember the conversion amounts across cups, pints, quarts, and gallons.

  1. Experiment with Stages of Matter

Show your child the dynamics of how heat can change the state of different types of food. Whether you want to freeze lemonade to make a sweet ice cube treat or simply boil water and watch it turn to gas, showing your child the effects that heat has can be a great way to explain the stages of matter.

  1. Practice Math Equations

You can help your child build their math skills by changing the recipe measurements to decrease or increase serving size. Adjusting recipes helps your child practice their multiplication and division skills. Try finding a recipe for a single serving and ask your child to multiply it by the number of members in your family. For younger children you can have them count spoons, cups, and scoops while adding ingredients to the meal.

  1. Concoct Chemical Reactions

Cooking can be a great way to show the various reactions a combination of ingredients can create. There is everything from the classic combination of baking soda and vinegar to adding yeast to make bread rise. Check out examples of other experiments you can eat, and the lessons behind them.

  1. Have Fun with Fractions

Although it has been said that you should not play with your food, cutting your food into different shapes can be a fun way to practice the concepts your child is learning with geometry. Cutting food into separate pieces can be a great way to practice fractions while you eat as well. For example, if you cut a pizza into eight slices, you can ask your child the fraction of the pizza they have eaten throughout the meal.

Expanding lessons in math and science into different areas of your child’s life can greatly improve their interest and their skills in the subject. By including these lessons into an activity that requires all five of the senses, your child is more likely to remember and retain the information that they learn. So the next time you are planning dinner, be sure to include your little sous-chef in the process.

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