Souffle Anyone?

I learned two very important things this week: (1) How spell souffle and (2) cooking in math class is a fantastic idea.

My Workplace and Apprenticeship 10 class is currently learning about measurement conversions. I’d initially hoped to rip through this unit before spring break, but I had a chance to have the eTeam (the U of R’s faculty of Engineering sends out reps to do a lab with your class – it is AMAZING) out to do a surface area/volume lab with my students. That derailed my hopes of finishing the unit on time, since it was going to be a tight squeeze, so I found myself with a few more hours to “stop and smell the roses” in the rest of the unit before winter break.

That’s when I decided to book our cooking lab. The Home Ec teacher was away, so the lab was free. From that moment on, I knew it was fate.

I found a great souffle recipe that looked relatively easy. I’m not going to call myself a master chef here, but I know my way around the microwave and toaster. In other words, I’m a bit of a disaster myself. That’s why I wanted to do this even more. The recipe looked easy enough, and deleted all the tsp/Tbsp/cup measurements. I left it only in mL. My students were tasked with converting the measurements to the units of the tools they had. Then they had to make it.

When I first planned this activity, I thought I would only get “real math” out of my students for the first 10 minutes while they were converting. I ended up getting a heck of a lot more out of them that I initially thought.

They encountered problem solving when they had to decode the cooking instructions. It calls for four whole eggs and two egg whites, but they had to separate all six eggs, only keeping the yolks of four of them. That was confusing, but they powered through (glad I brought the extra dozen eggs though). They were short on time, so they had to figure out how to make their souffle cook faster without burning. They had lots to figure out.

They also had to estimate. One student came up to me and asked how to measure 1/5 of a tsp (or something that doesn’t easily measure with your standard 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1 tsp measures). I looked at her and said “Oh, just eye-ball it.” Turns out they had to eye-ball a lot, since 250 mL isn’t exactly 1 cup (it’s actually 237 mL in case you are wondering).

Needless to say, I’m really glad I did the activity. Some of the souffles were delicious. Others were… well done.

After they were all in the oven, I even had the chance to show my students my awesome new “magic trick” that I learned from Steve Spangler’s youtube channel.

The next day when I taught the section on volume and capacity conversion, it was old news. We blitzed through it, since they figures it out on their own the day before. Score 1 for inquiry.

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