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Girl with dark hair in a kitchen using a hand mixer to mix batter in a glass bowl.
Payne County 4-H’er Emma Armstrong will hone her cooking skills by participating in the upcoming Food, Fun, 4-H Bakes program available through the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development program and Oklahoma State University Extension. (Photo by Mitchell Alcala, OSU Agriculture)

Youth practice STEM in the kitchen with Food, Fun, 4-H Bakes

Friday, April 19, 2024

Media Contact: Trisha Gedon | Sr. Communications Specialist | 405-744-3625 |

The popular Food, Fun, 4-H program is back in the kitchen this summer, but with a twist. In previous years, Oklahoma youth prepared main and side dishes, but this year’s series will focus on baking and how STEM is involved, including a lesson on cupcake coding.

Cathy Allen, curriculum coordinator with the Oklahoma 4-H Youth Development program and  Oklahoma State University Extension, said participants in Food, Fun, 4-H Bakes will learn how ingredients such as flour, sugar, baking soda, leavening agents, yeast and eggs work together to create a delectable dish.

“This summer’s program will help youth understand the function of each ingredient in a recipe and how all the ingredients come together to create something good to eat,” Allen said. “Cooking and baking are like a science experiment and we’re going to incorporate science, technology, engineering and math into the monthly recipes.”

Participants will receive a monthly email in May, June, July and August containing recipes, step-by-step instructions and colorful photos of each completed recipe. Allen said participants will also receive directions for food science experiments they can do in the kitchen.

Food, Fun, 4-H Bakes activities will challenge up-and-coming bakers to think about how recipes are affected when using melted butter instead of softened or baking at 325 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 400.

The Food, Fun, 4-H Bakes program is free and registration is open. Participants do not have to be enrolled in 4-H to participate. New this year is the option to purchase a kit containing four high-quality kitchen tools that correlate with the recipes throughout the summer. The kit is $40 and contains a silicone spatula, mesh colander, a wooden utensil and a baking mat. A 4-H apron can be added to the utensil kit for an additional $10.

Emma Armstrong, a member of Payne County’s Heritage 4-H Club, has participated in the previous Food, Fun, 4-H programs and is looking forward to this summer’s baking lineup.

“It’s a fun and educational experience,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to bring my family together to enjoy some amazing food. I also enjoy helping my younger brothers prepare the recipes.”

Armstrong said another positive aspect of Food, Fun, 4-H is learning more about nutrition and the science behind baking.

The humans in the house aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the recipes this summer. Tasty dog treats made from common kitchen ingredients will be featured during one of the months.

“Even families that don’t have a dog are encouraged to make the dog treats and donate them to the local animal shelter,” Allen said. “We encourage civic engagement in all aspects of 4-H, and this is a wonderful way to give back to your community.”

Food, Fun, 4-H originated in 2020 to keep 4-H’ers engaged during the pandemic, and its popularity has continued to grow. In the summer of 2023, 1,332 participants from 766 families participated.

“The state 4-H office has received a lot of positive feedback about Food, Fun, 4-H,” Allen said. “We’ve had parents and club members tell us about the new foods and ingredients they’ve tried and how these recipes are now a part of the regular meal rotation. Our goal is to help youth become more comfortable in the kitchen and even learn how to change up the ingredients to better suit their tastes and preferences.”

For more information about Food, Fun, 4-H, contact the nearest OSU Extension county office.

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