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LTU makes science sweet for students learning chemistry through cake

Release Date: January 21, 2021

On the computer screen, young students learn the scientific facts behind cooking up a cake.
LTU photo / Kennedi Gray-Burke.

SOUTHFIELD—Students at the Southfield Public Schools’ Levey Middle School learned about the science involved in everyday living during a virtual workshop conducted by Lawrence Technological University’s Marburger STEM Center—the chemical reactions that turn flour, eggs, and chemicals into delicious cake.

The project, for teacher Chrisondra Austin’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) class at the school, had students make decisions about which recipes to follow and learn how different amounts of different ingredients changed the properties of the final product. Students were also given options to bake a cake or cupcakes, with or without frosting.

The Marburger STEM Center is LTU’s clearinghouse for its K-12 STEM education oureach efforts. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the center has pivoted from in-person workshops to offering virtual workshops with unique and engaging STEM content.

This virtual workshop allowed these future scientists to enhance both their creativity and critical thinking skills, which are very important for successful career pathways in STEM. Thus, all the students had the opportunity to bake cakes or cupcakes and followed the exact same science (recipe), but was still unique to each individual student.

STEM-based topics and concepts discussed during the virtual workshop included the scientific method, the role of each ingredient in the recipe, and how baking a cake is an example of a chemical reaction. Additional topics discussed with the students included sugar intake and diabetes and the chemistry of milk.

The students enjoyed being able to conduct a hands-on activity at home, and were excited to perform a “science experiment.” Many students were intrigued by the relationship between STEM and baking, and all of them were excited to eat their final products. Additionally, discussions about diseases such as diabetes are important because of the impact on many communities.  In fact, 100 percent of the students that participated said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the experience in a survey taken after the experiment.

For information on how LTU’s Marburger STEM Center can bring hands-on virtual science workshops to your classroom or home school, contact Jaclyn Smith, Marburger STEM Center outreach coordinator, at jsmith19@ltu.edu.

Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, is a private university founded in 1932 that offers nearly 100 programs through the doctoral level in its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 15 percent of universities for the salaries of its graduates, and U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best Midwestern universities. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.


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