See what we did for other letters in the Alphabet in Simple Science.
C for Cook
How Can We Cook It?
Carrots and/or Potatoes
We started off with some raw baby carrots and a potato. I explained how we often use heat to cook things before we eat them. Cooking foods can change them. I then explained some of the different ways we could cook things, including microwaving, baking, boiling, steaming, and sauteeing. We cooked both of the vegetables each way.
Then I lined up each vegetable, and we talked about the differences. He got to try, and retry each one.
For this one, I had to ask some pretty leading questions. Xander was too busy wanting to eat the vegetables, that he did not really want to discuss them first. I asked him to look at the raw veggies and the cooked ones and tell me any differences he saw. I had him feel them, to see if they felt the same. I had him taste them, to see if they all tasted the same (the stinker linked the raw carrot and raw potato best). I had him bite the carrots to hear if they still crunched. He loved the crunching!
There are more ways took cook things (grilling, broiling, frying, etc). You could also involve different foods. With older kids I would also talk about food safety. We cook things like meat and eggs to kill bacteria, but it also denatures the proteins, leading to changes.
For something to do while waiting on the veggies to finish baking, I got out some popcorn. We compared the popcorn before and after cooking. It is a fun food because it changes shape, texture, color, smell, and taste.
Your favorite cookie dough, a light color works best though
I think this has been my favorite of all of the investigations so far. We talked about how cooking things changes them. I had him think of pancake batter and muffin batter, and how they changed into pancakes and muffins. Then I asked him if he thought how long we cooked things made a difference. I explained we would be making cookies, but some we would only cook a little bit, some a little longer, and some a really long time.
We started with three balls of cookie dough. I used parchment paper to make it easier to remove one at a time.
Then I baked them all for 5 minutes. It as long enough to have some changes, but not cook them all the way through. I pulled them out and had him look at them to see how they changed.
I put just one of the cookies on a plate to let him poke and feel.
He, of course, was impatient to taste it also.
I put the other two back in the oven. I pulled out another cookie a few minutes later. When I had two of the cookies out, I had him look at them to make predictions about the third. I baked the third cookie for quite a bit longer and then had him compare them all.
His favorite part of the investigation.
I asked Xander a lot of questions about his observations. How was the cooked cookie different from the dough? How did the color change the longer we baked the dough? How did they feel different? How did they taste different?
Another easy investigation would be to keep the cooking time the same, but change the temperature of the oven. For older kids you could also compare the size and baking conditions of the cookie. For instance, how does cooking one regular cookie compare to baking a giant cookie or a tiny cookie? What if you baked it in a muffin tin or in a covered container?