Demonstration teaches students math and science concepts

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Fifth-grader Wayne McKinney takes a dare from Nate Sandel, an instructor with King Arthur Flour's Life Skills Bread Baking Program, to see if he can toss pizza dough and catch it on a tray.Students at Chehalem Elementary School got a chance to learn how to bake the perfect loaf of bread Tuesday.

The fourth- and fifth-graders also learned a few tips on how to whip up the fluffy dough needed to create tasty pizza and cinnamon rolls.

They were treated to the special cooking session by a baker from the King Arthur Flour Company, who demonstrated his kitchen skills for the 175 students packed into the school’s gymnasium. The young kitchen apprentices were all ears as they took in the finer points of baking bread as part of the company’s Bake for Good: Kids Bread Baking Program.

With the help of fifth-graders Wayne McKinney and Esteban Hernandez Baez, Nate Sandel, an instructor with King Arthur’s life skills bread-baking program, demonstrated not only how to bake a premiere loaf of bread, but also provided an education on what the effort entails.

“Today you are going to learn the math and science of baking bread,” Erika Hansen-Rudishauser, a Chehalem Elementary School science, technology, engineering and mathematics teacher on special assignment told TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Students at Chehalem Elementary School raise their hands to answer a question from Nate Sandel, an instructor in King Arthur Flour's Life Skills Bread Baking Program.

The end goal, she said, is to receive the ingredients that would allow students to bake two loaves of bread, one for themselves, the other to share with someone else.

“My job is I travel all over to schools and teach kids how to make bread,” said Sandel, noting that the main reason most people don’t make homemade bread anymore is because it takes three hours. “People are going to be impressed you did this.”

From there, he explained the “magic ingredient” of bread — yeast, of course — and had McKinney stick his finger in a measuring cup full of water to make sure it was warm enough.

“If our water is cold, our yeast isn’t going to wake up,” Sandel said.

He then instructed the students in the correct way to measure a cup of flour by using a scoop to gently sift the ingredient into a container, being careful not to pack it tightly and scraping off the excess flour, so it measures exactly one cup.

“Ninety percent of the people in the world measure their flour in the wrong way,” said Sandel. “By doing this, we’re going to have a nice, tender loaf of bread.”

He then told students that once yeast was poured in, it would eat the sugar, producing carbon dioxide, creating a dough that would be ready to “rock and roll.”

Sandel instructed the students to look for bubbles, telling them that’s the way to ensure the yeast is doing its job.

Before wrapping up the presentation, Sandel also taught the assembled students how to make pizza and cinnamon roll dough as well. McKinney even got into the action by catching pizza dough tossed into the air. While he missed catching the dough on a silver try on his first attempt, he nailed it on the second.

Later, McKinney said the most important thing he learned from the event was how to make bread and follow the baking instructions “so you don’t mess it up.”

“I had a lot of fun,” he said.

Likewise, Hernandez Baez said he enjoyed helping out.

“It was fun and great,” he said. “The most important thing I learned was how to make bread and measure it.”

He said he would save the ingredients to bake his bread on a special occasion.

Hansen-Rudishauser, a Chehalem teacher for the past 11 years, said she was happy with how the baking demonstration turned out.

“I was very pleased with what I saw today,” she said. “Nate did a wonderful job of describing the bread-baking procedures in an engaging way for our students.”

As a result, she said she anticipated having an increased rate of attendance for a special science, technology, engineering and mathematics program set for Saturday at the school. That event will include other Chehalem students who also will receive all the ingredients to make the TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Nate Sandel, an instructor with King Arthur Flour's Life Skills Bread Baking Program, shows fifth-graders Wayne McKinney and Esteban Hernandez Baez how to knead dough during an assembly at Chehalem Elementary School.

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