Can you imagine learning about science while cooking? This was the aim of the workshop "Molecular Cooking for the Classroom: Teachers in the Kitchen", organized by the Millennium Institute of Oceanography (IMO) in cooperation with Par Explora Biobío and implemented by Imagina la Ciencia and Fundación Ciencia & Vida.
More than 15 teachers from the Biobío Region took part in the course, which began on January 9 at the Interactive Center of Sciences, Arts and Technology (CICAT). For a week, they learned how to relate concepts such as temperature, cell structure, and heat transfer to cooking, all of which are covered in different scientific subjects, such as Biology, Physics and Chemistry.
Nicole Halcartegaray, director and creator of this innovative idea, said: "The aim of molecular cooking is to apply chemical, physical and biological concepts to cooking. In this course, we teach techniques that have a scientific basis. For example, we talk about the cell, the difference between animal and plant cells, which determines the temperature and cooking time of food. We also learn how to calculate solutions and study concepts such as weight, volume and gelling."
This is an innovative teaching technique for the classroom. In fact, teachers are required to repeat some of the recipes at their schools. Norma Núñez teaches Biology at Michaihue School and appreciates the pedagogical value of this activity. "It's very motivating. It‘s a challenge to bring teachers into the kitchen and to relate scientific concepts to cooking. I think that this activity will be very interesting for students. The recipes can even be adapted to explain some contents in the school curriculum," she said.
In order to conduct this workshop in Concepción, a group of CICAT and IMO instructors received training, so that they could guide the teachers who participated in the activity. IMO monitors and marine biologists Carol González and Evelyn Bustos learned about molecular cooking. "It’s very interesting to work with teachers because they are motivated. The workshop is useful for both primary and high school students," said Evelyn Bustos.
The training program included a kit so that teachers have the necessary tools to run the workshop at their schools. Whether in a laboratory or in the classroom, students will not have to use open flames, since all the dishes are cooked with hot and cold water. It should be noted that this workshop was funded by the CONICYT Explora Project for the Assessment and Dissemination of Science and Technology 2015-2016.