Science Tots

Ice cream is my #1 weakness. This morning, Erica Peterson taught my son and I (and several other excited kiddos) how to make it. It was messy, it was fun, and it was DELICIOUS! We were laughing as we were learning – that’s how it should be!

Science Tots is a nonprofit that brings STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) learning into a new realm through workshops for preschoolers and their parents. Kids are given freedom to experiment and problem-solve on their own, and all the activities use affordable supplies that you can get at the local store.

Here’s a recap of our Science of Ice Cream class at the Chippewa United Methodist Church:

My little man & I sat together at a table full of mysterious (but familiar) supplies: sugar, half & half, vanilla, rock salt, measuring cups & spoons…and a recipe card. Erica opened by passing out a journal to each child.

Why a journal? “I don’t believe in refrigerator art,” she says. Erica explains that by introducing journaling early on, kids are better able to recall the learning experience. So, the next time they’re eating ice cream, they’ll remember the journal and go back to it to review the trial & error – what worked, what didn’t?

We each got to choose one measuring cup, and one measuring spoon to use for the entire recipe. Here comes the problem solving! The recipe says we need ½ teaspoon of vanilla, but we only have a tablespoon measure to work with. I was able to explain to there are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon, so 6 half teaspoons in 1 tablespoon…you see where this goes?

Once all of our ingredients were mixed, we filled a plastic bag with ice, and added rock salt. Erica came over and quizzed my little guy about what the salt might do to the ice, and why we would want that for our ice cream. I won’t give away all the secrets, but rock-solid ice cream is inedible, and you wouldn’t want to wait overnight for the ice on your sidewalk to melt away in the winter.

Place the bag of ingredients into the rock salt/ice mixture, and SHAKE! Shake…shake… a few minutes later, we had made a bowl full of sweet, creamy dessert. Excited cries of “I did it!” came from all around the room. That’s what Science Tots is about: give them the tools, the knowledge to work through it, and they’ll end up with a sense of accomplishment and amazement that they created something awesome.

Erica glows with passion about teaching STEM, and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store. Beyond ice cream, she dives into subjects like Messy Math, Conductive Play-Doh, Chalk Science, and outdoor learning with Science Tots’ “In The Woods” series.

To see what classes are coming up and register for classes, visit the Science Tots website, or contact Erica using the form below.

Erica Peterson

Ella Parker
BC born & raised, Ella spent her childhood playing in the woods, and her teens exploring them on horseback. These days, when she’s not on duty as a vet tech, she is busy staying active with her beau and their young son.

She is forever curious and has a playful personality, but is also fiercely driven and dedicated to her passions!