The Later Years
Your student has the understandings, facts and figures in Part 1 and Part 2 down. They are most likely in the high school range. In this lesson we can expand a little on the chemistry part of baking. We can also add in some anatomy/physiology study, color theory in both science and aesthetics, and don’t forget to eat your cupcakes.
So prepare to make cupcakes as described in Part 1 and 2 but let your HS student take the reigns. They are completely responsible for the outcome of the cupcakes. If they haven’t done any of the color, pH, or leavening experiments. Have them go through parts 1 and 2, learning, observing, and recording as they go. Throw some videography in there if they would prefer to video their findings instead.
The Batter Chemistry (and a little Physics with heat)
I would have them build and test a “box” recipe for pH acidity and bake it to see the outcome. Then using those findings as your base level for the batter, they commence on making their own cupcake recipe in small batches. (1-3 cupcakes each).
If safe (please investigate this), I would provide them with the 3 separate ingredients to Baking POWDER. They need to make their own for a “from scratch” recipe. They can experiment with ingredients and make their own custom batter but the pH has to be very close to that of the box recipe.
Same as above but they can push the boundaries of pH level to extract the maximum amount of flavor using a chemical leavening. This all depends on ingredients. For example chocolate can be very acidic. So a chocolate cupcake might require something different than a vanilla batter. Could there possibly be a change in baking soda vs baking powder ratio? A detailed record or video of findings and observations is a must. So allow the student to organize this task as much as they possibly can before beginning.
They could also experiment with ratios of leavening to baking heat and which combo produces that greatest result.
I would guess that this will be an all day project of trial and error baking. (great way to introduce trial and error experimentation along with the idea of perseverance. A story of Edison and the light bulb might come in handy here).
Yes, they are inventing the wheel. I think that is ok because imagine the amount of stuff they are learning!
The Batter Math
This is inherent. In order to complete this project their measurements and recording is going to have to be exact. Baking is very much an exact science. So their math skills will be put to the test when adjusting recipe quantities.
Just make sure they show their work on each small batch and especially for their own recipe. Remember, they are basically playing the part of a food scientist/chef that makes recipes for books and websites. They need to have documentation to support each batch. They should make their own record sheet that they can use on each batch so they can be involved and thoughtful in the process of what they are trying to measure. So they are basically making their own curriculum and resources for this experiment, just like any real scientist (or chef) would.
I would refer you to this website:
This website is ripe with ideas and experiments that the student can try. Here are some ideas that I have.
Use color theory on the cupcakes to make them really shine aesthetically. Make them look really good to the human eye by using a color palettes that are analogous, complimentary, based on nature, or color context (muted or bright). Use color theory to make your colors shine and stand out or make some that are not so bold but still look good together.
The student will make use of their primary, secondary, and tertiary colors while trying to experiment with different color combinations to make their cupcakes sellable! (yeah, we can even work economics into this). This best looking cupcakes will be the best selling most likely. Because people buy with their eyes first. So find the color combination that makes people just have to have one.
Have the student give a presentation on how color and the eye work:
Have them experiment and reproduce findings that they have read about color and vision
Here are also some color experiment ideas
You could set two cupcakes in the sun for 5 minutes. One with black frosting and one with white and then measure (if the frosting hasn’t melted…so make sure it is not butter based) the temperature of each. See if the black frosting retained more heat than the white. They theory being that the black absorbs light waves and therefore more heat. Covered wagons were white for a reason…
So there you have it. A 3 part, multilevel, lesson on colors and baking that involve many sciences but aesthetics as well. If you have any variations on this lesson. Let me know, I would love to include it.
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