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Program Cooks Up Lessons on Math, Science

Kids mix bread for the camera

Baking bread is about more than mixing ingredients, kneading dough and cooking at the right temperature.

It’s about math, science and reading too.

That was the lesson fourth-graders learned in April from Johns Hopkins University and King Arthur Flour.  (photo gallery)

Approximately 200 fourth-graders from three Montgomery County elementary schools visited Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus to learn the art and science of bread baking. The students, from Candlewood, Mill Creek Towne and Rosemont elementary schools, participated in the King Arthur Flour Bake for Good Kids: Learn Bake Share program. (video)

An instructor from King Arthur Flour taught her student helpers – the Divas of Dry Ingredients and the Lords of the Liquids – how to make bread dough for loaves, pretzels, pizza and cinnamon rolls. As the students worked and watched, they explored the role of carbon dioxide in bread baking, talked about the importance of fractions in measuring and learned about yeast’s role as a fungus that thrives on sugar. They learned that yeast is a living organism that needs warmth, moisture and food to wake up.

Students also discussed science and math terms such as estimating and hypothesis. They talked about centrifugal force in the context of tossing dough to make pizza. They understood the importance of carefully reading recipes.

“It was amazing,” said Charles Laggah, 10, of Mill Creek Towne. “We learned how to bake bread in different styles and we learned a little bit of science. I’ll be thinking about the strategies and tips she taught us, and the science.”

Added Joel Orellana, 10, also of Mill Creek Towne: “I didn’t know how much I could learn from it and how much science was in it.”

The lessons align with the fourth-grade science curriculum on the changing states of matter, properties of matter and the differences between mixtures and new substances. Learning science while baking shows students that science has real life, practical applications.

“We talk about matter and the changing of states,” said Stephanie Fernatt, a fourth-grade teacher at Rosemont Elementary. “It was nice to see change of state with something like yeast. It ties in perfectly with our curriculum.”

King Arthur Flour donated enough ingredients and supplies for each student to bake two loaves of bread at home. One loaf was to be enjoyed by the child’s family. Students brought their second loaves back to donate to Interfaith Works in Silver Spring.

Charlotte Garvey, communications manager at Interfaith Works, visited the elementary schools with Johns Hopkins University staff to collect the bread and talk to the students about homelessness in Montgomery County. Approximately 1,000 people are homeless every day in Montgomery County. About one-third are children.

“We’re going to have amazing food because of something you shared,” Garvey told the students. “We can’t do it alone. We need you.”

Interfaith Works uses the bread to make French toast, croutons, sandwiches and other items.

After students learned the chemistry of bread baking, they continued their hands-on science learning at Johns Hopkins. Scientists, nurses, students, teachers and others from several local companies and educational institutions led the students through activities including how to extract DNA from strawberries, how to prepare a plate of healthy food and the ins and outs of radiology and robotics, among other activities.

Adventist Healthcare Shady Grove Medical Center; Johns Hopkins Center for Biotechnology Education; Montgomery College; Rockville Science Center; and Suburban Hospital participated.

Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus organizes this event to expose students to science at an early age and to spark an interest in careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

CATEGORY: K-12 Outreach, In The Community