Mix it Up!

Is whipped cream a solid, a liquid, or a gas? What about jam or jello? Oil and water don't mix, right, so how is it possible that mayonnaise is mostly oil and water? How come sugar sinks to the bottom of your iced tea but seems to disappear if the tea is hot? In this hands-on science class, students investigate the chemistry of kitchen mixtures like these. They develop their own experimental questions, conduct experiments, do background reading, and write up their findings.

Cobb, Vicki, and Peter J. Lippman. Science experiments you can eat. [1st ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1972. Print.
McGee, Harold. On food and cooking: the science and lore of the kitchen. Completely rev. and updated ed. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
Figoni, Paula. How baking works: exploring the fundamentals of baking science. 2nd ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2008. Print.
Simon, Seymour, and Betty Fraser. Chemistry in the kitchen. New York: Viking Press, 1971. Print.
Simon, S., & Fraser, B. (1971). Chemistry in the kitchen. New York: Viking Press.
Wolke, R. L., & Parrish, M. (2002). What Einstein told his cook: kitchen science explained. New York: W.W. Norton & Co..
Amico, J., Drummond, K. E., & Walsh, T. (1995). The science chef: 100 fun food experiments and recipes for kids. New York: J. Wiley.
Potter, J. (2010). Cooking for Geeks Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food.. Sebastopol: O'Reilly Media, Inc..
Nichols, H. L. (1971). Cooking with understanding. Greenwich, Conn.: North Castle Books.
Ruhlman, M. (2009). Ratio: the simple codes behind the craft of everyday cooking. New York, NY: Scribner.
Hillman, H. (2003). The new kitchen science a guide to knowing the hows and whys for fun and success in the kitchen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Barham, P. (2001). The science of cooking. Berlin: Springer.
Ettlinger, S. (2007). Twinkie, deconstructed: my journey to discover how the ingredients found in processed foods are grown, mined (yes, mined), and manipulated into what America eats. New York, NY: Hudson Street Press.
Parsons, R. (2001). How to read a french fry: and other stories of intriguing kitchen science. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Corriher, S. O. (1997). Cookwise: the hows and whys of successful cooking. New York: William Morrow.
Corriher, S. O. (2008). BakeWise: the hows and whys of successful baking with over 200 magnificent recipes. New York: Scribner.
Brown, A. (2004). I'm just here for more food: food x mixing + heat = baking. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang.
This, H. (2006). Molecular gastronomy: exploring the science of flavor. New York: Columbia University Press.
Rombauer, I. v., Becker, M. R., Becker, E., & Guarnaschelli, M. (1997). Joy of cooking. New York: Scribner.
Field, S. (2012). Culinary reactions: the everyday chemistry of cooking. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press.
Kamozawa, A., & Talbot, H. A. (2010). Ideas in food: great recipes and why they work. New York: Clarkson Potter

Starting with the question: What is the best way to make exactly one cup of simple syrup, if you have to use one part sugar to one part water?, the students begin their study of dissolution and the properties of different kitchen solutes, solvents, and solutions, including colligative properties. Next we examine crystalline versus amorphous structure in solids, usually through an experiment involving rock candy. Finally we examine colloids, beginning with vinaigrette and then mayonnaise. Final projects vary but always involve student-developed experiments on the chemistry of kitchen mixtures.

Media Used: 
Exploratorium -- Science of Cooking (http://www.exploratorium.edu/cooking/index.html)
Sarah Phillips -- Baking 9-1-1 (http://baking911.com/learn/baked-goods/candy/types)
Interim Assessments: 

The first lab report functions as the first interim assessment. Depending on the semester, the topic may be solutions or crystalline and amorphous structure in solids. This may be done class-wide, in small groups, or individually.

The final lab report functions as Interim Assessment 4. Each student develops an individual experiment based on background research about a topic related to kitchen colloids. Students present their work to the class and lead a short discussion.

Significant Assignments: 

Research culminating in a literature-inspired experimental question, an introduction presenting relevant background information, and a hypothesis that addresses the literature. (This is assigned at least two different times each semester).

Individual or small-group presentations. These take place at different stages of the process of developing and conducting an experiment. Students are expected to share what they know, identify areas that need more work, and then respond to feedback and suggestions from the class.

Experimental designs. Students must develop procedures for testing specific hypotheses.

Analysis. Students must analyze the results of their experiments. They also critique the experimental design, and suggest possible follow-up investigations.

Sample PBATs: 
How does the amount of brown sugar affect the spread and height of cookies?
How does the amount of egg white affect the rise of angel food cake?
How does changing the order of the ingredients make or break the aioli?
How does the size of salt crystals in brine affect the time it takes to make ice cream with the double-bag method?