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Chemistry in the Kitchen: Clarke Hosts National Food Chemistry Workshop for Science Educators, July 25-30

By Clarke News  |  May 11, 2012

Ever wonder why there are no blue foods? Why some people hate cilantro and claim it tastes like soap, while others can’t live without it? The answer lies in understanding food chemistry.

While the world of food revolves around chemical properties and reactions, we don’t always think of it that way – until now. Food chemistry has grown in popularity in recent years as a way to teach science. From July 25-30 on the Clarke College campus, 24 college faculty members from across the country will participate in a hands-on program designed for educators wishing to use food chemistry in their own classrooms.

A number of media story and photo opportunities are available during this week. Please contact Mike Cyze at if you are interested in covering this event.

The week-long session was developed and is being delivered by Sunil Malapati, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at Clarke; as well as Elizabeth Pollock, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; and Raymond Shively Jr., chair and associate professor of chemistry at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. Each of these organizers has extensive experience in food chemistry and teaches similar courses at their home campus. The workshop is co-sponsored by the Center for Workshops in Chemical Sciences and the Agricultural and Food Division of the American Chemical Society. It is also a National Science Foundation sponsored initiative.

“The first chemistry experiments probably started in the kitchen and one can envisage recipes as being laboratory protocols,” said the group in its outline of this program. “Scientists are increasingly collaborating with the culinary world to redefine the boundaries of cooking, while a new wave of celebrity chefs on TV and in print have made food more accessible and have stimulated interest in the underlying science to the lay public as well as creating a foodie movement.”

During the course of the week, the workshop will provide the participants with a basic understanding of the connections between chemistry, food and cooking as well as strategies to incorporate food in the chemistry curriculum.  Each day will emphasize hands-on activities, discovery-based lessons and experimentation both in labs and in the kitchen. Workshop participants will prepare some of their meals while experimenting with the science behind the preparation.

At its conclusion, workshop participants will receive a full complement of resources to plan their own courses, including text materials, laboratory experiments, demonstrations, discovery-based lesson plans, and lists of print, video and online resources.