OPINION: Projects and games from America’s Test Kitchen

"Kitchen Explorers!"

BY: America's Test Kitchen (distributed by Penguin Random House, September 2020), ages 8-13, 143 pages, $12.99 paperback.

STORY: This is a workbook of kitchen-based STEAM projects from the intelligently thought-through collection tested by thousands of youngsters at the America's Test Kitchen Kids website. That's one of the places ADG Families found the fun experiments we played with in the spring, including growing your own salt crystals.

An educational aid and idea book for families teaching children at home during the pandemic, "Kitchen Explorers!" is one of three cookbooks America's Test Kitchen published for what it calls young chefs. This one includes more than 60 recipes presented as experiments and some games.

The pages are meant to be written on, with spaces allotted for notes and drawings.

Games include such old standbys as dropping a fragile food from on high to test various packaging strategies. The fragile food is a potato chip rather than the classic mess maker, eggs. And the text encourages children to think beyond the immediate question of preventing breakage to notice the packaging they see in stories and the different purposes it serves.

Some concepts are obvious, like the colors and textures of food or which foods taste better with salt. But some are subtle and fascinating: Put an ice cube in one zipper-lock bag and a similar size cube of butter in another zipper-lock bag. Freeze both bags for four hours. When you take them out, hold one in your right hand and the other in your left hand with your eyes closed. Which feels colder, the ice or the butter? Why?

It's all pretty cool.

Read to Me is a weekly review of short books.