Mrs. Duncan's fourth-grade class gathered in the Commons area on Friday morning, Nov. 17, for a practical lesson in baking bread, the nutritional advantages of whole grain foods, and an explanation of one of the hazards of grain bins.

Kicking off the morning's activities, Terry Lewis from the Fremont County Farm Bureau demonstrated what happens when grain dust particles inside a grain bin explode from a buildup of heat. Using a gallon paint can as a model, Lewis blew grain dust through a plastic hose into the can, which held a lit candle. The grain dust instantly caught fire in a small but impressive explosion that blew the lid right off the can.

Mrs. Duncan's fourth-grade students were a safe distance away, but eagerly welcomed an encore when it was offered.

Mandy Maher of Iowa Extension and 4-H then led the children through a lesson on different types of grain that can be used in making bread and other foods. She asked them to read the ingredients on various boxes of prepared foods, and explained why it's important to know what you're eating!

Then the students teamed up to make their own freshly baked loaves of bread from scratch. They filed along both sides of a long cafeteria table in pairs, carefully measuring each ingredient and adding it to a gallon zip-lock bag as they went.

At the next table, they squeezed the air out of their “bags of bread,” sealed them tightly and kneaded them until the dough was no longer sticking to the bag. Next they transferred the fresh whole-grain dough into baking tins and lined them up on the kitchen counter to wait for the dough to rise.

And finally, into the oven for delicious homemade bread!

The annual fourth-grade bread bake was started by teacher Alice Hodde, now retired, and has been going strong for more than 20 years.

Thanks to Kasey Wallace of the Farm Bureau for the video of the “grain bin” explosion.