STEAM in Action: Food science stations
Keeping minds moving, relationships growing and stomachs full.
Afterschool enrichment programs often try to accomplish numerous things in a short one- or two-hour time frame. A STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math)-focused initiative might emphasize open-ended thinking along with building relationships and covering content all between the end of classes and dinner. Regardless of the type of program, if it’s after 3 p.m., young people are almost always hoping for a snack. One creative way to incorporate snacking into small group science exploration is by creating food science stations!
The Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards program has used food science exploration at many program meetings across Michigan with mentors and their youth mentees. Having tried various formats, it seems picking shorter food science experiments that can be done as multiple stations has a few benefits:
- Shorter times per experiment keep youth engaged and moving.
- Stations allow for either small groups or mentoring matches to work together and build relationships.
- Multiple small snacks make sure everyone has something they like.
- Youth can think of more questions they might want to explore after a brief introduction to a concept.
There are a ton of simple food science experiments out there, but here are a few of our favorites to test out as small group quick stations:
- Popping corn-on-the-cob
- Turning whipping cream into whipped cream then into butter
- Plastic bag ice cream
- Rock candy – this can carry over to the next meeting
More than just making sure projects and snacks co-exist, exploring food science in a STEAM program attaches learning to a daily activity and encourages young people to keep thinking and asking questions.
Michigan 4-H Tech Wizards is a 4-H Youth Mentoring program offered by Michigan State University Extension in numerous communities in Michigan. The program uses various STEAM projects to help youth build long-term mentoring relationships with adult mentors. Since the focus of the activities is to strengthen their mentor relationship, projects often put a unique spin on STEAM that encourage improving communication, teambuilding and life skills.
This series, STEAM in Action, features various creative approaches and the mentoring staff member who facilitated these great ideas. Watch for more STEAM in Action articles featuring creative project approaches from our team, including:
- STEAM in Action: Building as a team
- STEAM in Action: Robo mazes
- STEAM in Action: School gardens
- STEAM in Action: Rolling through coasters
- STEAM in Action: Creating board games