It is a misconception that cooking in schools only has to do with nutrition, where our food comes from, and recipe preparation. Those lessons are practical and hugely useful but at Stevenson Elementary School we believe cooking can be so much more. Co-Curricular Learning

Stevenson Elementary and the PACT program use cooking as way of creating hands-on ways for students to engage with content in English language arts, math, social studies, and science.

Imagine a lesson where kids are fully engaged, hypothesizing what will happen and watching their experiment come to life. Even better, at the end, you get to eat the results.

For example, lessons can reinforce literacy if a class has read a book like Thunder Cake by Patricia Pollaco, or can bring in STEM or social studies lessons to life. In math, fractions can be illustrated by building fruit kabobs and talking about what portion of the kabob is made, say, from strawberries. Want to have a kid relate to how Native Americans might have eaten in the past? Make a recipe like succotash with beans, corn, and squash or homemade tortillas from dried corn kernels. How do you discuss complicated subjects like matter and energy? Compare food storage and preservation techniques, like dehydration and canning, to how a battery stores energy for later use. Energy from the sun is converted via plants into something we can preserve and then eat for energy at a later time, as demonstrated by using solar ovens to dry fruit or cook a pizza!

Oftentimes, light bulbs only go on in a child's mind when things are introduced multiple times and in different ways. Cooking is both an enrichment opportunity as well as a way for kids to see things in a different way, using a medium that they are intimately familiar with. The strength of this kind of co-curricular program is that we can use everyday, inexpensive materials to illustrate complex ideas to expand a child's mind and understanding.

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