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Chemistry Teacher Explores New Techniques in John Dewey Kitchen Institute

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-Cynthia Belliveau, Ed.D., teaches students in the John Dewey UVM program.

High school chemistry teacher Sam Bromley is bringing his passion for cooking to the classroom.

Bromley teaches applied chemistry at Montpelier High School, where he infuses his culinary background with classroom chemistry projects, helping students experiment with the science of food reactions, flavor pairings, smell, and taste.

In June 2019, he enrolled in the UVM John Dewey Kitchen Institute to explore different ways to use food-based teaching in the classroom.

“I went into the program to enrich my chemistry curriculum as I’ve been wanting to use cooking as a vessel in the classroom,” he says. “I was looking to bring the passion for food that I’ve developed over the past 5 or 10 years and make it more relevant to what my students are studying.”



Taught by UVM Continuing and Distance Education Dean Cynthia Belliveau and Dewey scholar Lisa Heldke, the John Dewey Kitchen Institute emphasizes the pedagogical power of the kitchen. In the three-day summer program, students from around the country come to UVM to learn how to use cooking to teach any topic within a framework of collaboration and cooperation.

John Dewey’s Learning by Doing Approach

Dewey, a noted a philosopher and educator, was born in Burlington and earned his undergraduate degree from UVM in 1879. He believed that food was a central vehicle for teaching critical, intuitive thinking, and unifying knowledge with experience. His main approach to teaching was “learning by doing.”

Founded by John Dewey, the original Dewey School formed in the early 1900’s, was an experimental laboratory of education, which included a kitchen lab.  The Dewey School tenets included education as a practice of democracy and learning by doing.

Participants in the John Dewey UVM program:

  • Gain an understanding of the complex dynamics of practical and theoretical learning within an experiential setting.
  • Learn strategies for incorporating the Dewey Tenets into teaching.
  • Experience cooking, tasting, and eating as a way to learn about inquiry.
  • Develop critical-thinking exercises that can be applied in the classroom.

Bromley says he enjoyed the hands-on nature of the John Dewey UVM program and the surprises he encountered along the way. john dewey uvm

“I liked not really knowing what was coming next in the course or not knowing what ingredients we would be using,” he says. “I liked the sense of wonder that the program allowed and the ability to be creative.”


Learn about the UVM John Dewey Kitchen Institute