Curious Chef is a DIY science cookbook and learning model for young teens that combines simple cake recipes with physics learnings in the area of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. It aims to excite both girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 14 years for STEM subjects by demonstrating the applicability of physics and engineering in everyday life through baking, a hands-on activity that can easily be conducted at home, promotes experimentation, and fosters creativity. Each chapter covers one physics principle, a recipe demonstrating the principle as well as prompts for experimentation, a quiz, and a small AR experience. Through these AR experiences, users can see the learned science principles visualized on top of their own bakes, connecting abstract science explanations with real world objects.
The project developed out of my engagement with the persisting Gender Gap in STEM fields. This gender gap is particularly high for some of the fastest growing and highest paid jobs of the future, such as in the fields of engineering and computer science.1 During my research, I learned that historically, most science subjects were primarily taught to girls due to their high importance for the everyday life of a ‘good’ housewife and mother.2 In contrast to this, girls today often perceive STEM subjects as highly abstract and often lack understanding of their applicability to daily life and potential careers. Other reasons for the existence of the STEM gender gap commonly mentioned in literature are gender-related stereotypes, the lack of support from parents and the lack of female role models.3 I myself was very fortunate to grow up in a family that defied many stereotypes and offered plenty of support, with my mum being an engineer and a grandfather who used to work as a scientist for thermodynamics and fluid mechanics at NASA. Ever since I can remember, he asked me one question over and over again: would you like to hear a riddle? Needless to say, his question was rhetorical.
With Curious Chef, I want to make the experience of my own upbringing paired with a childhood passion of mine, baking, accessible to other girls and boys by proposing a learning model that utilizes baking as a real world application of the featured science learnings. More specifically, baking, in this learning model turned DIY book, is used as a tool to motivate and engage learners along their journey of understanding, investigating and applying concepts of thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. By providing a simple recipe as well as the option for further experimentation along with a distinguished science principle, Curious Chef fosters learning through observation and understanding instead of decontextualized memorization.
I am imagining the distribution of this DIY book to follow a monthly subscription model. The Curious Chef Starter Kit, including the binder, sheet protectors, clear sheets and sticky notes, can be ordered through the Curious Chef website. The starter kit also includes introductory content as well as the first three chapters that can be downloaded and printed at home. Additional chapters are released on a bi-weekly basis and can be downloaded from the Curious Chef website upon release. This form will allow me to make Curious Chef more easily accessible while also keeping a DIY aesthetic that invites users to make it their own and encourages a haptic learning experience by drawing, writing and assembling the content.
Curious Chef’s mission is to motivate young teens to follow their passion for STEM and encourage them to be and stay experimental, creative, and, most of all, curious.