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Student Projects

Breaking Bread

Authors: Sara Strong, Amilio Aviles, Juli Ruff

Grades: 10th, 9th

Subjects: Humanities, Math, Physics

How can making and breaking bread help us understand and tell the stories of different societies and our own families?

In this project students made, analyzed, and broke bread together. They coupled weekly bread baking with a deep dive into the historical, social, scientific and mathematical “slices” of the bread making process. In humanities they explored how the type of bread a society favors can tell us about their values, access and social construct. In physics, they reverse engineered bread machines before designing and building pedal powered grain mills and ovens. And in math they modeled the transformational processes involved in taking a loaf from seed to loaf along analyzing different nutritional levels during each stage of the process. The project culminated in a meal where we “broke bread” and shared our other products with families and other exhibition guests.

Project Handout: Exhibition Prep Slope and Piecewise functions





  • Machine – In physics, the students designed, prototyped, critiqued and then built working grain mills, ovens, threshers, and winnowers.
  • Instruction Manual – In all three classes, students created instruction manuals for their machines that included user instructions, context rationale, and an analytical look at the usefulness/efficiency of the machine.
  • Communal StoryIn humanities and math, students composed a communal story to be shared at the exhibition feast. Students created corresponding mathematical models of the transformations at work in the story to serve as centerpieces on the table and visuals for the story.
  • Geometric Cutting Boards – In math, students designed (using geometric construction constraints) beautiful cutting boards to use to slice and serve bread at exhibition.
  • My Best Loaf – In groups, students worked to define and then create their “Best Loaf” of bread. They had loaves of this to share at exhibition along with various other loaves (both commercially and artisinally made) to compare using their “bread bread rubric”
  • Historical piece evolution – In humanities, students traced an object from its invention to its modern day uses. They created visual displays of this evolution and connected it to the transformational processes important to the bread making process.

Student Work Samples




Humanities Physics Math
WEEK 1: 1/19-22


Mon, Jan 18. MLK – No School





(bake: day 1 trial by fire)

How bread (a simple object) can teach us a lot about society, creates /   – drawing or cut and paste of picture. WEEK’S PRODUCT: pick an object from daily life, show the evolution and explain what it can teach us about society, what definitions it reveals


Heat vs temperature Lab

Do: measure temperature

Learn: insulators/conductors/heat and temperature/ Thermal conductivity

Calculate: cooling time for different materials

The Nuts and Bolts of Bread-making

Reading Recipes/Percent Hydration,Unit conversions (review)


Begin growing wheat and collecting data on its transformation (+manipulating growing from Andrew)


Group Task #1: Ratios in recipes

Functions?!(remember the flashcards!)

WEEK 2: 1/25-29





(bake: something else with the bread machines before they get disassembled?)

Planting, Agriculture & Survival…What does SURVIVAL look like in PALEOLITHIC AND NEOLITHIC AND Now     WEEK’S PRODUCT: Pick something that has been changed by science (biologically) GMOs – WHAT WAS THE RATIONALE OR REASONING BEHIND THE CHANGE Calorimetry experiment

Learn: how to measure heat flow, energy from combustion

Do:Build simple calorimeter setup burn food to see how much energy is released)

Calculate: heat from temperature change

{Each week we will take a different transformation and represent it as a functional shift “function machine” and a visual geometric transformation }


Visual Transformation #1: Seed to wheat grass


Plant Seeds – geometry activity (allocating the seed space in the windowsill)


Interpreting Key Features of graphs (teacher generated)


Functions as input/outpout machines


“Mathematize This” Reading – Seeds

WEEK 3: 2/1-5






Harvesting – Agriculture. .plows, tractors, industrial revolution, find an aspect of bread has been changed through technology. Technology is what often defined the different ages.  WEEK PRODUCT: Pick something that has been changed by technology. What are the consequences of the change? How does this change words/definitions? disassemble bread machines Discuss parts of the machines, how the complex steps of bread making are mechanized

Learn: Electric Motors, circuits, torque speed curve,

Calculate: Motor power

Transformation Model #2:

wheat grass to grain


Visual Transformation


Nutritional Function


Group Task #2

WEEK 4: 2/8-12




Fri, Feb 12 Presidents’ Day – No School


(bake: pizza crust?)

Overflow week from previous 3 weeks work Electric heating

To Do: Build step up and step down transformers

Learn: P= I^2R, Voltage and current,

Calculate: Efficiency of electric heating element, vo

Transformation Model #3:

grain to flour



Group Task #3


Intensive study of contextualized slope


WEEK 5: 2/15-19




Mon, Feb 15 Presidents’ Day – No School


(bake: Sandwich bread)



building machines from the bread machine parts Each group will repurpose a part or parts from the machines to serve a new purpose Transformation #4:

flour to dough


Writing lines for the growth/decline



Group Task #4

WEEK 6: 2/22-26




bake: Sourdough



Gas producing reactions

Learn: chemical reactions leading release of gas, phases of matter, volume/pressure reaction

Do: Baking soda vinegar, mentos diet coke, yeast and hydrogen peroxide (elephant toothpaste)

Calculate: Volume of gas produced by each experiment’

Transformation #5:

dough to risen dough



Reading and interpreting piecewise functions


Group Task #5

WEEK 7: 2/29 – 3/4




SLCs (3/3 minimum day)


Mon, Feb 29 – Staff Day – No School


bake: sandwich bread 2

Answer the Question: How can story help us relate to others and create bonds between author and audience? Starting to look at literature.


Parrallel of the idea of story with Breaking bread


Ancient Stories and What they tell us

Winnowing and projectile motion.

Learn: Newton’s laws and projectile motion

Do: separate grain from chaffe using sifters vs air blowing. Drop grains and chaffe and time how long they take to fall

Calculate: force on grain vs force on chaffe (mass and air resistance)

Transformation #6:

risen dough to formed dough




Group Task 6

WEEK 8: 3/7-11


bake: sourdough


Our stories:

Tell your story, possibly use the cards from the first class.


Grinding and Friction

Do: slide objects down a slope, measure angle when they start sliding to measure static friction. Grind grain by hand to determine what effects coarseness of flour

Learn: Friction, surface roughness

Calculate: force of friction due to different contact surfaces

Transformation #7:

formed dough to baked bread



Group Task #7



Prepare mini exhibition for PI Day

WEEK 9: 3/14-18


Interview stories:   Interview someone and tell their story. Use some of the questions we used from the first Breaking Bread as your starting point.




Your own rubric

Starting to look at stories (ours and others) (greek story, bible story, etc.).


Defining your perfect loaf: WEEK’S PRODUCT: Your own rubric

Introduction to alternative technology. Simple machines (gears, levers, etc.)

do: research machines proposals for machine designs

calculate: cost of parts

Overall Model of all transformations 1-7 together


Linear vs. exponential growth… which models the processes best?



Extension Option: geometric transformation animation in excel

  SPRING BREAK – 3/19 – 4/1   Order Parts for Machines  
WEEK 10: 4/4-8


Mon. Apr 4 Staff Day – No School



GROUP WEEK’S PRODUCT: Draft 1 of your perfect loaf

Machine design research

Simple machines levers

Do: handle grains to examine the different steps (winnowing, griding, baking), determine which process they want to do. Write proposals for their design

Learn: Mechanical advantage (level force)


Finalize Nutrition models with piecewise functions and optional exponential growth pull-outs


Begin geometric constructions… (Playing with the tools of Euclid)





WEEK 11: 4/11-15 Finish interviews WEEK’S PRODUCT: DRAFT 2 OF YOUR PERFECT LOAF Machine Building

Simple Machines Gear trains

Do: Build Prototype of machines

Learn: gear ratio

Mini lessons on important constructions

Define drawing vs. constructing

Rough Draft

Geometric Cutting Boards

WEEK 12: 4/18-22 Machine Building

Do: Build Prototype of machines

Learn: Simple Machines inclined planes and screws


Critique and finalize

Geometric Cutting Boards

WEEK 13: 4/25-29 Introduce Communal storytelling – performance;

Identifying themes in our own stories and in literature excerpts (practicing basic lit analysis).

Excerpts from:   Parable of the Sower; Fried Green Tomatoes; Like Water For Chocolate; Grapes of Wrath???

Machine Building

Do: Build Prototype of machines

Learn: Efficiency, work and energy conversion

Sarah laser cuts cutting boards, students finalize geometric constructions


Compile Portfolio with algebra review warm-ups (preparing for final modeling with systems of equations for next week)

WEEK 14: 5/2-6


May 6 Snow Day – No School

Continued exploration of Communal storytelling;   WRITING FICTION – developing stories with universal themes;


Introducing Technical writing: the Physics manual work – models critiques

Machine Building

Do: Build Prototype of machines

Learn:   Heat engines (thermodynamic cycles otto)

Begin creation of

models for user guide for Amilio’s machines

WEEK 15: 5/9-13 Putting it all together: Developing our communal performances with cohesive themes (hatching the vision)- DRAFT 1


Performance skills while storytelling; critique of performances;


Technical writing: the Physics manual work – drafting technical writing.

Machine Building

Do: Build Prototype of machines

Learn: Learn:   Heat engines (thermodynamic cycles brayton)

Finalize nutritional models for user guide
WEEK 16: 5/16-20 Communal Performance DRAFT 2


Technical writing: the Physics manual work – critique and revise technical writing

Models for the user guides (applying the system of equations)
WEEK 17: 5/23-27 Dress Rehearsals (1 day machines; 1 day communal stories; 1 day meal, set up and communal stories for fishbowl teams).

5/26 Exhibition!

5/26 Exhibition! 5/26 Exhibition!
WEEK 18: 5/30-6/3


Mon 5/30 Memorial Day – No School



Senior Takeover! Senior Takeover! Senior Takeover!


POL prep/ Reflection Week


POLs and Last day of school