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Pancakes with a side of Chemistry

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August 22, 2017
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September 5, 2017

Making Pancakes has never been so scientific

When you've next got time to make some pancakes from scratch, involve your kids so they can learn a little bit of chemistry, and also think through the process computationally.

What You'll Need

  • You and your kid
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons of melted Butter
  • 6 eggs

How to Play

We have a very crepe-y recipe for you to make pancakes from. Include your kids, to talk through how you're cooking them, and how the ingredients transform into food. Teaching kids how to cook can open a door to chemistry -- and possibly develop them into a master chef junior in the near future.

Step 1: Getting Prepped

Explain each ingredient. Ask your kid: what is the role of this? And what's it going to do to the flavor of what we're creating?

Step 2: Start the process

Now it's time to start thinking in sequences and processes. Ask your little one: what do we need to put together?

Start with the ingredients you need to prep: get the butter melted, and break the eggs open.

Sieve and measure the flour. Mix it with the other dry ingredients -- the sugar, the salt, and the flour, all in a big bowl.

Step 3: The Chemistry Begins

Now begins the drama: we are going to put the liquid ingredients in with the dry ingredients, and see what happens.

Dump in the melted butter. Whisk in the 6 eggs. And pour in the 2 cups of milk.

Ask your kid: What is going on? And ask them: how much should we mix? What should our goal of mixing be? Hint: get all the lumps out!

Step 5: The Heat Is On

Now we will take this reaction to the next level. Time to get a wide, flat pan heated up and lightly oiled. Ask your little one: why do we need this pan and the stove? What are they going to accomplish?

To help them think through the process and the chemistry, ask: 'Why didn't we just put each ingredient on the stove? What would that have tasted like?' Then ask, 'Why don't we just eat this from the liquid in the bowl? Wouldn't that just be as delicious as the pancake cooked?'

The goal is to get them thinking through the reasons that you made the pancakes in the order of steps that you did. And to understand the power of heat to transform liquids into solids. As the substance heats up, the ingredients bind together, the liquid begins to evaporate, and the batter comes together to form a solid pancake. Incredible!

As you cook and serve your chemical creations, talk it through with your kids. How would they make pancakes tomorrow morning? Would they reorder any of the steps? What could they change in the ingredients, and how would the pancakes change? What if you left out the eggs? What if you left out the salt?

And of course, don't forget to enjoy!