Mums, how many of you can proudly say that your husband can cook? And how many of you wish he could? If he cannot, he can still learn as it is not a rocket science. However, you have it in your power to teach your son (and your daughter) how to cook. But now, you have an even more compelling reason to do so. Many principles of cooking could be applied to STEM subjects!
How many of you here are Harry Potter fans? Can you tell me why the Dumbledore’s Army was formed? For those who don’t know, there was once a wizard, Lord Voldemort who was evil. He killed, among a lot of other wizards, parents of Harry Potter. However, LV’s spell backfired and he could not kill Harry. Harry spent his early days learning magic at a school called Hogwarts, headed by the great wizard, Dumbledore. Now, Dumbledore is gone (for a brief period) and the management is under a despicable headmistress, the pink woman. She bans any practical use of magic.
Harry, along with his friends start a secret group that practices magic for defence. The crux of the long tale, practice is necessary to perfect anything. (Okay, I could have said the same thing in one line, but then, Harry Potter reference…)! So the idea is to let your child learn from cooking some basic tenets of STEM subjects.
Here are 5 things that your child learns from cooking.
When your child will learn to cook, the first thing he would need to do is to identify the ingredients. He would know what is the difference between spinach and bok choy. In the process, he will understand how to differentiate between similar looking ingredients (thought the ones mentioned are in no way similar!), how to tell a good one from a one that is going bad, how to cook meats, and how it is different from fish because even though both belong to phylum Cordata, they differ in the class. Not to mention the anatomy, the function of each organ and the basic morphology!
2# Measurements, especially fractions
Cooking is a science, not just an art. If you don’t believe me, try baking a cake with an extra egg than indicated! When your child learns to look, he learns the metric system through weight, sizes and volumes. It is an important aspect as one learns the art of ‘approximating’, or ‘estimating’. Encourage your child to play with your measuring cups and compare the ounces. He will have a blast!
Many engineers and architects talk about how the structure is the key when it comes to any project, big or small. Well, when it comes to some aspects of cooking, like say, baking, or even flipping an omelette, understanding the structure is very important. The crust of a quiche cannot be too thick, nor can be the skin of a popiah! However, make it too thin and you have a bad dish at hand.
Watch some TV shows about cooking with your child and he would understand the reason behind cooking the dish in a particular way.
4# Critical thinking and arriving at a logical conclusion
When you are cooking, things go wrong. There are two ways to deal with it. Either throw it away or wait, analyse and redesign. The latter is not too different from the way a STEM problem should be approached.
Critical thinking involves taking a stock of the situation, creating a list of impact factors, and then designing a framework of making the best of the situation. When your child is cooking, he puts to use the existing knowledge, sees how salvageable the dish is, and then think about the steps to make the most out of it.
Cooking is all about variations. The way my brother makes an omelette is totally different than how I make it. It is just about understanding your creativity and pushing the boundaries. So, with many variations, now I have a perfect recipe for mint chicken. And I arrived it by scientific experiments- build a hypothesis and then test it.
When your child is cooking, encourage them to try new things and document them. This way, as he grows up, he will have a journal handy if he ever has to cook for himself. And most importantly, he develops an aptitude for trying out new things scientifically.
So mums, when is your child getting a hands-on training in your kitchen?
Also read: The secret to raising creative kids is easier than you think