Out of the classroom, into the kitchen

From candy “glass” to gooey slime, plain scrambled eggs and edible bubbles, Wake Forest University students put their kitchen chemistry knowledge on display last week for school children visiting SciWorks, an interactive museum and science center in Winston-Salem.

Chemistry majors taking the Kitchen Chemistry elective class had to come up with engaging, hands-on activities to explore chemical concepts by experimenting with everyday items from the kitchen – like sugar, milk, eggs, fruit, baking powder and gelatin.

See Wake Forest chemistry majors help school children conduct experiments with everyday kitchen ingredients.

Seniors Alex Krall and Lucas Gabriel decided to have children make candy pixie sticks that involved combining citric acid, baking soda and flavored gelatin in a bowl and then sucking up the mixture through a straw, creating a fizzy sensation in their mouths.

The experiment worked, but “some of the kids thought it was really strong so maybe it worked too well,” said Krall.

Gabriel said it was fun to be able to show that chemistry isn’t just something that happens in a laboratory. “Chemistry is a part of our daily lives.”

Associate Professor of Chemistry Lindsay Comstock-Ferguson’s, who teaches the class, said the SciWorks opportunity was a way for her students to embody Pro Humanitate through fun experiments that show children the importance of chemistry in their everyday lives.

“It also provided my students an opportunity to reflect on the chemistry they are learning in the classroom while attaining skills needed to translate their academic knowledge about food and cooking to museum visitors,” she said. “I’ll be asking them to reflect back on their experiments and how it impacted them and their interactions with the children.”

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