Andrea Roberson

Foreign language teachers have always had to defend the necessity of their programs to their school districts. People view foreign languages as elective, not a requirement. Well, with almost 40 million Hispanic people living in the United States, I think Spanish language acquisition is just as important as English language acquisition. So to prove how Latino culture can pour into other aspects of education, I offer you a connection to Chemistry.

Have you ever made bread? This crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, delectable concoction is actually made from a chemical reaction. When yeast is added to water, the mixture begins to ferment (turn into alcohol) thus giving off carbon dioxide gas. This is what makes the bread rise. So how do you demonstrate this to your students and make a connection to science?  WE’RE MAKING DEAD BREAD PEOPLE!!! In order to honor the Day of the Dead, let’s imagine you’re doing a TV demonstration. This means you’ll need a clean, sanitized space to be able to work. Follow the steps below to do a cooking demonstration in class.

First, gather the following ingredients. Place each in a separate container so students can see each item individually.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 5 to 5-1/2 cups flour
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole anise seed (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs

Second, follow the instructions on how to make the bread. Talk students through each step.

  • Preheat the butter, milk and water until very warm but not boiling. (You may have to run to the teacher’s lounge and make the mixture hot so it’ll cool down to warm by the time you’re ready to use it.) When you begin your demonstration, tell students the contents of the mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cups flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and sugar. Beat (with a mixer) or stir in (by hand) the warm liquid until well combined.
  • Add the eggs and mix in another 1 cup of flour. Continue adding more flour until dough is soft but not sticky. Knead on lightly floured board or table for ten minutes until smooth and elastic.
  • Lightly grease a bowl and place dough in it, cover with plastic wrap and let rise.

Third, walk away from the bread dough. You may begin a lesson, check homework, anything you have to do to get students’ minds off of the dough for 30 or more minutes. At the end of whatever distraction you choose, show students the bowl with the dough. By this time it should have at least gotten 1 and 1/2 bigger than the original size. Normally the dough needs to double in size before shaping and baking, but this is just for demonstration purposes. If you have more time, let it rise longer. You want students to see how the carbon dioxide has released within the dough causing the dough to rise. Finally, you can poke the dough with your pointer finger and let students see how the poke causes the dough to deflate (the carbon dioxide release).

Let’s make this fun! Remember to channel your inner television star!

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