Full STEAM ahead with food science

By March 9, 2023News

“The students get to experiment with the ingredients, and how withholding or adding more of an ingredient can create a completely different flavor profile.” 

Benia Darius, Chef Educator

It’s full STEAM ahead for The Sylvia Center! 

We are excited to announce the launch of The Sylvia Center’s teen food science program, which builds on the concepts of STEAM education. STEAM education is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that integrates the subjects of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics in a holistic way. This hands-on, experiential learning helps students develop critical thinking, and teaches problem-solving, communication, and collaboration skills. The Sylvia Center’s food science programming combines aspects of STEAM education that engage students intellectually and teaches skills that can be applied in real-world scenarios.

“My favorite part about food science is that we can take something like cornbread and ask ‘Why does this rise? What if we change the leavener or what if we leave one of the ingredients out?’ It makes us stop and think about what goes in our food, how to alter it, and ultimately how to become healthier and better cooks.” 

Sarah Heasley, Chef Educator and Teen Culinary Apprenticeship Coordinator

The Sylvia Center’s food science lessons teach students how to design a healthy plate, understand chemical and physical changes that occur during cooking, and explore healthful cooking methods. In each lesson, students learn how to substitute healthier ingredients in a recipe. For example, students experiment with substituting natural sweeteners like maple syrup and honey for processed sugar. They reflect on the differences in smell, texture, and taste in their baked goods. With increased knowledge about nutrition through activity-based learning, students are exposed to healthier eating habits. The program culminates in Sylvia Center students taking what they learned over the 16-week course to teach the food science curriculum to middle school students in summer camps, becoming champions of healthy eating in their own communities.

Through the lens of food science, young people practice cooking and eating with intention, and ultimately make informed healthy choices. Food science provides students with a deeper understanding of the scientific concepts that underlie the food they eat, and collaborative learning has a positive impact on building self-efficacy and interpersonal skills. Teens in Sylvia Center’s food science program develop a love of learning and discover new opportunities and possibilities in their daily lives.

*Explore different chemical leaveners in quick breads with Chef Educator & TCA Coordinator Sarah! Try the experiment here.