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  1. Bradley Morris
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Kent State University
  1. John Dunlosky
  2. Professor
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Kent State University
  1. Whitney Owens
  2. Chief Learning Officer
  3. Presenter’s NSFRESOURCECENTERS
  4. Cincinnati Museum Center

Food for Thought: Igniting, Engaging, and Measuring Family STEM Learning Usin...

NSF Awards: 1906706

2021 (see original presentation & discussion)

Informal / multi-age

Families can play role in igniting children's interest in science pathways, but they may not always have access to high-quality materials that demonstrate clear connections between science and daily lives. This project will address this issue by developing high-interest materials that teach the science of food preparation to families with children ages 7-13. These materials include the following four components: (a) Food Labs, food-based investigations taking place in museums or in food service facilities; (b) take-home kits allowing families to conduct similar types of Food Labs at home; and (c) a series of question starters called Promoting Interest and Engagement in Science (PIES) designed to facilitate meaningful family conversations around food preparation.  The project was underway when the pandemic began, and although the project aims remain the same, the collaborative team redesigned how to engage families and children with the food labs so as to (remotely) explore how engaging families with these food-based activities impact their children’s interest, engagement, and understanding of science and food.  In our video, we discuss our main research goals, the food-based activities, and how the collaborative teams has pivoted the project in the face of a global pandemic.

This project will advance knowledge regarding features of take-home materials that foster family science learning and ignite children's interest in science pathways.

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Discussion from the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase (26 posts)
  • Small default profile

    Julie anderson

    K-12 Teacher
    May 11, 2021 | 08:51 a.m.

    I really loved seeing what you did combining food with stem activities! Anytime I bring food into a lesson, my students are very engaged. I can't wait to try doing some more food related stem activities. Thanks for sharing!

     
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    Remy Dou
    Bradley Morris
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 09:09 a.m.

    Thanks for watching our video, Julie! I would be happy to share some of our activities, just send me an email (bmorri20@kent.edu). We have been using popcorn in many of the activities and it is always a hit! 

     
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    Remy Dou
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 09:06 a.m.

    Thanks for watching our video! The goal of our project is to foster family science learning and ignite children's interest in STEM pathways through cooking. Cooking is a rich context for science and math learning. Cooking is also an authentic, culturally-rich context for families to engage in conversations about STEM. We have been creating and evaluating cooking activities that help children learn about science concepts (e.g., the science of proteins) and support high-quality family conversations using Wh-questions (e.g., why does popcorn pop?).

     

    We would love to hear your questions, suggestions, and feedback about our project!

     

    We would like to highlight our amazing team:

    Cincinnati Museum Center

    LaSoupe (A food repurposing organization)

    COSI

    Kent State University

    NSF AISL

    This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1906706. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
    Remy Dou
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Dionne Champion

    Dionne Champion

    Facilitator
    Research Assistant Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 09:38 a.m.

    Very cool project! Thanks for sharing. I know that when cooking is brought into science classes like chemistry, students seem to get more excited about the science. I often wonder if they have the same reaction when science is brought into out-of-school activities like cooking with family. Do they get excited about it or do they feel more like forced learning time? 

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
    Remy Dou
    Bradley Morris
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 11, 2021 | 12:29 p.m.

    Thanks, Dionne! Great question! Kids do seem to enjoy it, in part because it is novel. We keep the STEM content “light” so that it doesn’t seem like a formal lesson and so that we don't overtake the inherent fun of cooking and family time. So far, our results show increases in interest in science (and cooking) as well as learning gains after participating.

     

     
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    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Kim Koin

    Kim Koin

    Informal Educator
    May 11, 2021 | 10:41 a.m.

    Delicious! How did/are you recruiting families to participate in these activities?

    Also, are you sharing the videos on a larger scale?

    At Chicago Children's Museum, we have shared our STEM, Art and SEL videos widely through social media and You Tube, https://www.youtube.com/user/ChiChildrensMuseum, while also working with individual families via Zoom to record how they respond to the video prompts.

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
    Remy Dou
    Catherine Haden
    Bradley Morris
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Whitney Owens

    Whitney Owens

    Co-Presenter
    Chief Learning Officer
    May 11, 2021 | 12:25 p.m.

    @Kim, we at Cincinnati Museum Center love the Chicago Children's Museum!  Your work in inclusive messaging about gender, family structure, etc. has definitely influenced our thinking when we were creating prompts and invitations to families for this research.

     
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    Remy Dou
    Catherine Haden
  • Icon for: Katie O'Hara

    Katie O'Hara

    Manager, Communications
    May 11, 2021 | 02:20 p.m.

    What a great way to make STEM more accessible! Do you have any brief/high-level results you can share from your post-activity surveys? What parts of the lessons excited families the most?

     
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    Remy Dou
    Whitney Owens
    Bradley Morris
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 10:04 a.m.

    Thanks, Katie! We have been super happy with the very positive responses from families. Many families noted that it was brief, fun, but also engaging. One theme in the comments was that several parents did not know the answers beforehand (e.g., why does popcorn pop?) and enjoyed learning with their children. The popcorn activities seemed to hit the right balance between being authentic and fun.

     
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    Remy Dou
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Sabrina De Los Santos

    Sabrina De Los Santos

    Facilitator
    Research and Development Associate
    May 12, 2021 | 01:14 a.m.

    You have a delicious and creative project! There are so many opportunities working with food and science and I appreciate how the take-home kits allow for exploration at home and ensure families have the ingredients to participate. Do families provide ideas on what food they would like to prepare? Have you collected data on what questions students and family members ask about the science and food preparation process?

     
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    Remy Dou
    Whitney Owens
    Bradley Morris
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 10:37 a.m.

    Thanks, Sabrina! Before we began, we conducted a large survey of food preferences so that we could focus on foods that kids would enjoy. After we made a few activities, we began to create activities that shared a central ingredient, such as eggs (like the French Toast recipe in the video). This allows us to expand the number of recipes while keeping the science or math content consistent. This also helps us to create recipes in collaboration with our community partners so that we can be more inclusive and culturally-responsive in the foods that we are preparing. We are collecting questions from families and students in our activities. We will use the findings to find better ways to support their STEM learning and as well as their cooking skills!

     
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    Sabrina De Los Santos
    Remy Dou
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Daniel Zietlow

    Daniel Zietlow

    Informal Educator
    May 12, 2021 | 10:10 a.m.

    This is great!  I like the idea of connecting with the whole family, and not necessarily just the student.  Have you adapted any of your marketing or engagement strategies to try and bring the whole family to your events (or watch them virtually)?

    Cheers, Dan

     
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    Remy Dou
    Bradley Morris
    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Whitney Owens

    Whitney Owens

    Co-Presenter
    Chief Learning Officer
    May 12, 2021 | 12:16 p.m.

    Hi, Dan!  Having a museum in the partnership seems to help since families are somewhat used to learning together in that setting - and we've been intentional about the consent/assent/prompt language in the experiment design to emphasize families working together. We also just recently tried a "light" intervention by handing out popcorn science kits at a large community resource distribution event - families also received food boxes, free books, and learning kits.  A QR code on the kit directs families to a site where they can do the "popcorn challenge" and record themselves talking together about it.  Resources at the event were focused on multiple ages/grades, which we hope will help us reach the whole family.  Cheers!

     
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    Remy Dou
    Daniel Zietlow
  • May 12, 2021 | 01:45 p.m.

    Great project - and adaptation to COVID! Would love to hear more about what families are talking about as they engage in Food for Thought! Are there some activities elicit especially rich STEM talk?

     
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    Whitney Owens
    Remy Dou
    Bradley Morris
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 03:20 p.m.

    Thanks, Catherine! Our framework for promoting family talk is based on and inspired by your work!! We don’t have much data yet on family talk but we are collecting some as we speak. We just started a new project in which we delivered resource kits in the community that included food, books, and other learning items. One item was a container with popcorn and oil that had a QR code to bring families to a landing page to participate in our activity. This page provides instructions for the activity, prompts for family talk (e.g., wh-questions), and allows them to record their conversations. We are excited to see what sparks family STEM conversations!

     
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    Whitney Owens
    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Remy Dou

    Remy Dou

    Facilitator
    Assistant Professor
    May 12, 2021 | 11:58 p.m.

    Comments: As noted by the comments above, this work exhibits a broad set of very interesting dimensions, and bears great potential to contribute to a variety of topics that have implications for informal parent-child STEM interactions. I look forward to reading more of the findings! 

    Questions: I'm curious about both the boundaries that were applied (or removed) to constrain (or expand) recruitment of participants with certain characteristics. Were you looking for particular types of participants? In general, how did you approach participant recruitment and retainment?

     
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    Whitney Owens
    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 13, 2021 | 09:02 a.m.

    Thanks, Remy! Your work is very interesting and I would like to hear more about how you and your colleagues approach these issues as well! We tried to cast as wide a net as possible in terms of recruiting. Our initial proposal was working with children ages 7-14 and their caregivers but we make it clear that others in the house were welcome to participate (e.g., younger siblings, grandparents). One of our primary goals is to make sure that we are recruiting diverse families with a specific goal of reaching food insecure families. We have been using multiple recruitment pathways including school outreach, camps and other afterschool activities, social media, and community food distribution events. Our partner organizations, The Cincinnati Museum Center and LaSoupe, have extensive ties to the community and have been the leads in recruiting families. A substantial focus of the education efforts at LaSoupe is working with food insecure families. I can’t say enough great things about both of these organizations!!

     
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    Whitney Owens
    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Remy Dou

    Remy Dou

    Facilitator
    Assistant Professor
    May 16, 2021 | 05:34 p.m.

    I'm happy to hear about your great partnerships and your focus on partnering with families who experience food insecurity. I resonate with your approach. Our team also looks to partner with families that have children in that same age group. Because we only recently shifted our focus from college students to parent-child participants, we've collaborated with community partners that serve highly localized segments of our population, but now that we have a better grasp of our protocol we're intending on leveraging relationships with partners who have a broader reach. Perhaps the most interesting of these partnerships is with a local YouTube "celebrity" who reaches a largely Spanish-speaking audience. A potential for recruitment and dissemination in service to those communities exists there, I believe, but we're still just at the beginning stages. 

     
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    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: Susan Warshaw

    Susan Warshaw

    External Evaluator
    May 14, 2021 | 12:13 p.m.

    I really liked the format of your presentation. It was easy to follow and grasp the essence of your work..

     
    2
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    Whitney Owens
    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 14, 2021 | 01:48 p.m.

    Thank you, Susan! Thanks for watching our video!!

     
    2
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    Whitney Owens
    Remy Dou
  • Icon for: Jacqueline Ekeoba

    Jacqueline Ekeoba

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2021 | 05:17 p.m.

    How fun! What an interesting partnership for this project. I think kitchen science is often forgotten from STEM teaching and learning. What types of activities did you use? I think of the Maillard reaction any time I am cooking and especially when considering the taste I want for foods, Were topic like that explored in your project?

    I also wanted to invite to view an informal STEM experience done at University of Houston: https://videohall.com/p/2031

     
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    Whitney Owens
    Bradley Morris
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 17, 2021 | 10:07 p.m.

    Thanks so much for watching our video, Jacqueline! We have multiple types of activities. Our popcorn activities are the most developed at this point. We use popcorn to help kids learn how to create unconfounded experiments and to make sense of data. Our cooking activities merge learning how to cook with learning the science behind cooking. Our French toast activity is a good example of teaching kids how to make a dish, think about science through wh-question prompts (e.g., why does stale break work better?), while helping them learn some science (e.g., how heat changes the structure of egg proteins). Yes, the Maillard reaction is a favorite of ours because it combines great science with great tasting foods! 

    I loved your video! What a great project!! It is clear that the students had a great time doing these activities. Nice work! 

     
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    Whitney Owens
  • May 17, 2021 | 05:55 p.m.

    I love the integration of critical life skills with STEM. We are working on similar design initiatives at Thinkery in Austin, TX in our farmers' market and innovators' workshop exhibits.

     
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    Whitney Owens
    Bradley Morris
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 17, 2021 | 10:21 p.m.

    Thanks so much, Cristine! (I really like your work, by the way!) We have been working with our community partners to develop food-related activities that are culturally-relevant. We recently worked with a local organization to develop a fraction activity for kids while they make Tres Leches cakes. I happy to share our activities. I would love to hear how you and your team are approaching everything.

    I enjoyed your video! What a cool space and what a great idea!

     
    1
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    Whitney Owens
  • Icon for: James Callahan

    James Callahan

    Informal Educator
    May 18, 2021 | 07:37 a.m.

    Professor Morris,

    Wonderful program! Yours is a very enjoyable video indeed.

    We're very pleased to learn from what your program is doing, as we have much in common.  In particular, that you have been developing live interactive remote demos and labs.  In my mind, that is a bit different than virtual labs.  As in what you do is really taking place in the physical world, it's not virtual. Yet, families and students are connecting remotely, safely, during the pandemic.

    Your approach is very much our approach in this respect.  The Mobile Climate Science Labs has a specialty of presenting at mass scale science festivals, field trip hubs, community events and other venues.  The labs and demos are totally interactive and hands-on.  In adapting to be remote, we could not imagine wanting to drop the live interactive quality.  To simply be virtual, as in a pre-recorded video of a demo or lab -- that is NOT interactive. Videos are one important way to communicate, certainly.  Neither of our programs would be in the Showcase if we didn't think so.  Videos are of course essential.  But science festivals are something else; and we don't want to drop the live, interactive nature of science festivals. 

    Question:  In making presentations truly interactive, what techniques have you found work well?  By contrast, which of those have you tried or considered that doesn't work particularly well?

    We would love to learn from you and compare notes.

    For instance, when the remote platform is Zoom, there are a number of options:  Chat; encouraging people to un-mute, speak up, ask questions and make requests; and polling (As in asking: What would you like us all to do next together?

    Are those among you have used?  What are some others?

    You'll get an idea of some of those we have used in our video.  Especially during the last segment, which highlights our remote LIVE Climate Action Labs micro-TV production studio.

    Thank you for making available such a fantastic video!

     
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    Bradley Morris
  • Icon for: Bradley Morris

    Bradley Morris

    Lead Presenter
    Associate Professor
    May 18, 2021 | 09:34 a.m.

    Thanks for watching our video, James! First, let me say that I loved your video and your project! I appreciated the multi-faceted approach you are taking to engage students in climate science. I was very impressed with the thoughtful ways that you are making your project inclusive and how creatively you adapted your project to the pandemic. Amazing work!

    Your comments about delivering content resonated with me and I’d love to have a discussion about what works and what doesn’t work. We have been testing out multiple approaches for providing activities to families, all with unique strengths and weaknesses. One approach is a series of videos and interactive STEM activities centered around families making popcorn on a stovetop. This approach has been very good for many families because it is very convenient and families can do activities at their own pace. The downside is that families sometimes forget to complete all the activities and assessments. We also have remote cooking classes (via Zoom) with science and math add-ons. These require more scheduling and are a bit less flexible but we have a higher proportion of families complete all of the activities. One unexpectedly thorny issue with food-based activities is that food handling and preparation laws make it difficult to prepare and share food in public spaces like museums. Members of our team were getting food handling licenses before the pandemic hit! These regulations do not impact home-based food activities.

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