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Gifted programs to introduce molecular gastronomy

Rachel Mims has big plans for the gifted programs at Thorsby School, Jemison Elementary and Jemison Intermediate.

She was recently approved for a PEECh grant to purchase the materials needed to begin a molecular gastronomy course at each of the three schools.

Between the schools, Mims teaches eight classes from third to sixth grade with about 10 students per class.

Molecular gastronomy experiments with how food is prepared and how it transforms throughout the cooking process.

“It can change in unique ways, such as a strawberry turning into foam,” Mims said.

According to Mims, the course is something new to Chilton County and to her as a teacher.

The idea to introduce the subject came from a unit that she was involved with last year that focused on art in New Orleans, where she talked about everything from architecture to food.

“Some of the restaurants there [New Orleans] specialize in molecular gastronomy and have 12-course meals with these little plates that are really neat,” Mims said.

The interest from the students was evident from the start and was something that Mims wanted to preserve and build upon.

“Anything that is challenging and unique these students are attracted to,” Mims said. “It is something that they have not heard of and can do hands-on.”

The course is expected to begin at the beginning of the next school year. The class will most likely take place for half a semester, about six weeks.

“We do concept based units, which can branch off into any discipline that we can think of,” Mims said. “We use things like this to carry the skills that we teach.”

Math, science, reading, creativity and problem solving are several of the avenues that Mims wishes to explore as part of the molecular gastronomy course material.

The grant awarded $918 to be used in the purchase of necessary equipment and food items. Equipment for the class can be continually used, while certain food products are the only items that would have to be bought each time.

Spherification, diffusion, gelation and osmosis are some of the concepts when preparing food that will be examined during the course.

If the class is a success, there are many ways in which to add on to the course material in the future.

“There’s a lot more tools that you can use,” Mims said.