Rising to the Occasion: The Science of Food Lift

Programs, Lectures & Talks
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
4:00 p.m.–4:45 p.m. EDT (UTC -4)

Join the Science History Institute’s Lisa Berry Drago for what just might be the greatest Varsity Tutors class since sliced bread.

Wheat is far from fluffy. In fact, the main ingredient in breads and cakes is specifically called a grain. So how do your baked goods get that delightfully soft texture (and taste)? Find out in this exploration of the history and chemistry of the ingredients that make your food rise to the occasion. You’ll even try your own “balloon race” experiment as you test different mixtures of yeast and sugar to give your food flight. And along the way, you’ll examine ancient processes of leavening, see modern mass-production techniques, and meet founders of contemporary food science.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 empty plastic water bottles
  • 2 balloons (not inflated)
  • 2 cups of warm (not boiling) water
  • 2 packets of yeast (instant is best)
  • sugar (at least 2 tablespoons)
  • honey (at least 2 tablespoons)

About Your Expert Instructor

Elisabeth (Lisa) Berry Drago is the director of visitor engagement at the Science History Institute. She also cohosts the Institute’s Distillations podcast on the odd and fascinating histories of science. She was previously a public history fellow at the Institute, where she curated Things Fall Apart (2017–2018) and Age of Alchemy (2018–2021). Berry Drago is the winner of a 2018 American Alliance of Museums’ Award for Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing (Things Fall Apart). She holds a PhD in art history from the University of Delaware, specializing in the representation of science and artisanal work, the history of the print, and artistic identity-making. Her most recent book, Painted Alchemists (Amsterdam University Press, 2019), is the first monograph on the painter Thomas Wijck (1616–1677), whose pictures of alchemists in the laboratory offer new perspectives on early modern science and artistry.

About Varsity Tutors

Varsity Tutors is a live-learning platform that seamlessly connects learners to experts in more than 3,000 subjects. Since 2007, the company has been investing in online learning technology, built new-to-the-world capabilities, and assembled some of the most talented tutors, educators, and instructors across the U.S. to help deliver that mission. Through one-on-one instruction, small group classes, large-format group classes, and adaptive self-study, Varsity Tutors has created a live-learning destination to meet the needs of all students.