This project brought together my love of learning and food. Working to develop a lab-based science curriculum for makeshift schools in India led me to create experiments around cooking science. I adapted this into a tablet app for K-12 students, engaging them in project based learning that made the connection between their science curriculum and their everyday environment. In a later phase, I evolved my approach to allow students to design their own recipes based on scientific principles and to learn with their families. .
I began developing tutorials that used recipes as the basis of labs, and embedded them within a simple MOOC interface for initial user testing. A key element of the work was also the testing mechanism - by answering a simple quiz at the end of each section while waiting for the food to cook, kids are able to apply their knowledge while teachers get detailed data about which aspects of the lesson each student has mastered.
After working with middle schools in Singapore and New York to test the initial approach, I began searching for content partners. By developing a network of celebrity chefs interested in Molecular Gastronomy, a specific brand of cooking focused on the chemistry behind food, I created a tiered approach to the curriculum, from grade school to adult education, based on using cooking to learn chemistry and physics. Eventually, the product will also include a community aspect, where users from different locations can interact around the labs and answer each other's questions.
Self-directed Learning & Project Design
After going through a number of the guided tutorials, students are allowed to create their own lessons, with the aim of using food preparation to help their peers learn. The goals of this exercise were to allow students to apply their understanding of scientific principles by identifying processes in their environment, as well as to teach their peers.
In this version of Epiphany, students engage with their family members to learn about cooking science together. The aim of this phase was to observe the ways that families are able to learn together through the medium of cooking and food, which are often shared experiences. I tested this approach in teams with one child and one or two adults.
In the guided learning phase, each team would go through the selected lab, and complete each assignment together. Often, adults fall into the role of teaching the child how to cook, while the child takes the lead in teaching the adult about principles of science.