'Pizza ... Any Way You Slice It!' at the Austin Children's Museum

Half the task of journalism is finding the right person (or people) to cover a story. There are a million stories out there, but unless they're covered by someone who knows what questions to ask and who would be interested, the story gets lost. So when news of the Austin Children's Museum's latest exhibit came across our desk, we knew just who to send to get the scoop: cub reporters Zack Anderson (11), son of staff photographer John Anderson, and Rosalind Faires (9), who belongs to me and my husband, Arts Editor Robert Faires. The two spent a recent Saturday perusing and participating in the exhibit and offer their impressions. The exhibit, which is sponsored by Schlotzsky's, runs through May 4 at The Austin Children's Museum, 201 Colorado. $4.50 (under 2 free). 472-2499. www.austinkids.org. - Barbara Chisolm
Rosalind Faires and Zack Anderson with their pie
Rosalind Faires and Zack Anderson with their pie (Photo By John Anderson)

What if kids liked math just as they do pizza? The people at the Austin Children's Museum are trying to make that possible. The new exhibit "Pizza ... Any Way You Slice It!" teaches kids about math and culinary science using kids' favorite meal ... pizza! It's not as easy as it sounds because most kids groan at math class while they cheer over pizza.

At most adult exhibits you are there to just look at things or read about things, but the pizza exhibit lets kids do hands-on activities. The exhibit has a kids' size pizzeria with a phone, a restaurant order wheel, counter, table, brick oven, felt dough and sauce circles, and wooden toppings. There is also a scale to weigh ingredients on, and a truck for delivering that delicious pizza. A lot of kids like to think about what they will be when they grow up, and here they can pretend they're grown up and are working at a pizzeria.

Have you ever wondered what people in different countries put on their pizzas? You can find the answer at the "Pizza Around the World" activity. The exhibit sneaks math into the fun by including number problems on the order cards, and math activities on the scales and in the back of the delivery truck. It's not like everything is so easy; things are challenging and entertaining for older kids and young children. One big challenge is to cut a pizza into seven pieces using three slices.

Pizza+math+culinary science -- a wonderful exhibit. To me the exhibit did a great job of making math as fun as pizza. - Rosalind Faires

Many kids watched in awe and joy as chef Marko Ellinger tossed a wet, round towel, serving to simulate pizza dough, into the air. He tossed it again and again, first standing, then sitting, then lying on the ground, and for the finale standing up and letting it fall on his face, managing to talk the whole time. Everyone thought it was hilarious. Afterward, he asked if anyone else wanted to try it. I raised my hand, and was picked to do it. He showed me how it was done, and after a few tries, I got it.

He was showing everyone how to make stuffed crust pizza. First, he talked about making pizza dough, and how it has to rise for two hours. Then he told us all that stuffed crust pizza has all of the toppings inside the crust. After he made and cooked it, we got to try some. It was different than pizza normally was. It tasted like the toppings were more combined with the crust.

After a break, we went back up and watched another presentation. This time, chef Marko showed everyone how to make a dessert pizza using peanut butter and bananas. It took awhile, but I still liked it. Overall, I have to say he did a good job with his presentations.

I had fun while I was there, and the Austin Children's Museum had done a good job with the exhibit. I liked how there was more than one aspect to it. I suggest you go and see it. - Zack Anderson

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