School is out for summer, but kids aren’t done learning thanks to summer camps hosted by Manchester Parks and Recreation. The Science of Cooking, a week-long class that ran from Tuesday, May 28 to Friday, May 31, taught kids science with the reward of being able to eat their lessons.
Hosted in the newly renovated Boyd House kitchen near the soccer field complex, the 20 students of all ages were able to bake chocolate chip cookies and homemade biscuits and made their own butter and salad dressing.
“It certainly gives the opportunity for hands on learning and science,” said camp teacher and College Street Elementary (CSES) teacher Vanessa Barnard.
On the first day, the kids learned the scientific method while baking chocolate chip cookies. They formed two hypothesis on what they thought would happened if they made a batch of cookies without sale and a batch without baking soda.
They discovered the salt-less batch tasted off and more sugary and the batch without baking soda flattened and didn’t brown.
Many of the kids were surprised to learn that salt was such an important part of the recipe. One student brought what they learned home and made cookies with their parents, said Vanessa’s husband and CSES teacher Kent, who helped with the class.
On Wednesday, the students made salad dressing and learned about mixtures. They got to see how oil and water don’t mix naturally, even though they needed them to for their dressing. The students learned emulsifiers, such as mayonnaise, can bind water and oil so they can be used in recipes.
Thursday was an active day. The students made their own butter by shaking salt and cream in jars to learn how liquids can turn into solids. They also made biscuit dough.
On Friday, the students baked and tasted the biscuits with their homemade butter.
Throughout the week, students learned about the benefits of fruits and vegetables, as well as how walking for 30 minutes a day was beneficial for them.
Students agreed their favorite things about the week was getting to make the food and then being able to eat it.
Vanessa hopes to continue partnering with schools, especially College Street Elementary due to the proximity. The Boyd House gives students a space for hands-on healthy learning that can piggyback off of lessons the students learn in the classroom.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what we’re able to do in partnership with the schools,” she said.
Manchester Parks and Recreation held other after school classes in the kitchen as well. Amanda Morton, Parks and Recreation activities coordinator, estimated they held about five classes in the kitchen prior to the Science of Cooking. In those classes, students made homemade pizza sauce using the tomatoes from the greenhouse, fish tacos, chocolate covered bananas, strawberries and marshmallows, and more.