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Chemistry, cooking and culture

What better way could young people spend their summers than learning about chemistry and math, studying another country’s culture and learning the vital life skill of cooking all at the same time?

Sound impossible? Well, it’s not. The Tidewater Regional Governor’s School hosted a two-week program to introduce third- through sixth-grade students from Suffolk, Franklin, Isle of Wight County and Southampton County to the concepts.

Students learned culinary arts skills and the science behind them, including physical and chemical changes, mixtures and solutions, preservation methods, measurements and conversions.

These youngsters now have practical applications of the things they’ve been studying in science and math class. Why does water turn to steam when it’s boiled? Why do certain ingredients thicken a sauce? How do you convert cups to ounces? What’s the best way to preserve leftovers, and why?

These students now know all that and more. They also learned the vitally important rules of kitchen safety and studied the various flavor profiles associated with the cuisine of various countries, learning about the cultures of those countries along the way.

Career education? Yes, that was included too. These young people learned about the various careers available in the world of culinary arts and how they can do much more than simply be a chef.

When it was all over, they presented their research in edible form to family and friends who attended an open house.

About 26 students from Suffolk elementary and middle schools attended, and they reported that they learned how to cook and are going to start cooking at home, and that they learned more about other countries’ cultures through the program.

This is a valuable program that involves a lot of local kids, and we think it’s worthwhile.