With only one or two exceptions, I love every single one of the teachers my kids have had. They’ve embraced experiential learning, largely abandoning lectures and rote memorization in favor of group projects, individual presentations, skits, and songs. It works. I have two boys who love to learn and who have excellent communication skills as a result; by junior high, they’d logged more time speaking in front of a group than I had by college.

The Edible Cell is my favorite of their hands-on learning projects so far. Why hand a kid a plant cell drawing and ask him to label all the parts for 100 points when you can send him home and ask him to construct a plant cell with edible items from your kitchen?

Sending kids home to do kitchen things requires a small budget and a large amount of parental cooperation. Because I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m by default a cooperative parent, so the afternoon of the assignment I shepherded three boys to our corner market, gave them each a couple of dollars, and let them go crazy picking out candy. Sadly no one else was in our aisle to overhear them discussing what would make the best endoplasmic reticulum; I would have loved to see the questioning eyebrows.

What I loved even more, though, was watching the kids as they made a big batch of brownies from scratch: reading the recipe, searching for ingredients, carefully (sort of) measuring them out, setting the oven temperature, discussing the different parts of a cell and how best to arrange the candy – observing that process of actively learning was very cool.


Here are the results. How much of middle school science do you remember . . . can you pick out the Golgi bodies? Vacuole? Mitochondria?

That’s ok, I couldn’t either.


Here’s another one: