Coronavirus school closures left many science professors scrambling for new ways to teach concepts traditionally explored in the lab.

Not so for Pia Sörensen, a senior preceptor in chemical engineering and applied materials at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. She breathed easy, knowing that even without advanced scientific instruments, her students could still access the only laboratories they really needed: their own kitchens.

 

Sörensen is one of a small group of university teachers who explore the science of matter through the art of cooking. Although often instructed with a big assist from professional chefs, these courses aim to elucidate scientific concepts that underlie all kitchen creations—from the humblest of eggs to the most elevated of foams. “Food is this thing that draws people in and it’s something that people naturally do,” says Sörensen. “They are doing science and they are doing experiments. They’re just doing them in their kitchens.”

 

By letting students experiment in the kitchen, rather than the lab, instructors aim to draw more students to science. And by serving up a heavy portion of chemistry, math, and physics alongside mouthwatering labs, they hope to hold that interest in science—and food—for a lifetime.

 

See https://www.pnas.org/content/117/35/20982