AP Chemistry Students Cook with Chemistry In Mind

AP Chemistry students studying with Dr. Megumi Yoshioka-Tarver, Upper School Science Teacher, recently researched the science at work inside their favorite foods. Last week the Upper School students invited classmates and faculty members to an informational potluck where they shared their dishes and their new understanding of food chemistry.

The exercise was similar to the Winter Term course that Dr. Meg led in January. “Most of the students could not take my Winter Term course, so it was an opportunity for them to learn something new,” she said. “My intention for AP Chemistry students was to think about chemistry outside of the classroom. There are chemicals everywhere around us, and I wanted them to be more aware of what is in our food.” 

Students chose their favorite foods and researched the cooking process. Before guests could enjoy the smorgasbord, they were encouraged to ask the chemistry students questions about the chemical processes at work in the food. “This event was not just sharing the food. [Students] got to showcase their knowledge about the chemistry they have learned,” Dr. Meg said.

Chemistry is a daily part of our lives, and Dr. Meg hopes this exercise helps students realize and appreciate just how close we are to—and dependent on—chemistry. “I would like students to see the subject beyond the textbook, and food is the most approachable subject to relate to,” she said. “I try to give examples of chemistry concepts around us and ask students to think about things around us with a different perspective. I am hoping this was one of those openings for them.”

Students explored the chemistry inside brownies, cheesecake, chocolate lava cake, Gatorade, snickerdoodles, chewing gum, macaroni & cheese, Coca-Cola, Mentos candy, chocolate cupcakes, zongzi, cinnamon rolls, caviar, chocolate cookies, blueberry pie, pizza, lemonade, marshmallows, and red velvet cake.