In this lesson, students will model the responsibilities of a food scientist by working in product development teams to create a new food product. Tasks will involve market analysis, economics, food chemistry and safety, graphic design, and communication.
For the teacher:
Project Grading Rubric
For the students:
Product Development Team Handouts
One base ingredient for trail mix such as cereals, nuts, pretzels, etc. Beware of food allergies when selecting ingredients.
texture: the texture of food describes how it feels in the mouth. For example: crunchy, chewy, soggy, creamy.
aroma: the smell or odor of something. For example, the aroma of fresh baked cookies.
Background Agricultural Connections
Interest Approach – Engagement
Bring an item to class, such as a box of cereal or sports drink and ask students for ideas on how an item like this can transform from an idea to a selection on our grocery store shelves. Is there a career area that develops new food products, determines the nutritional value of food, and identifies what consumers need and want for food products? Yes! It is the job of a Food Scientist.
In this lesson, students will:
Create and refine a recipe for a new food product.
Calculate the rates of profit for a new food product.
Learn how to identify the needs and desires of consumers.
Learn how to determine the nutritional value of recipes.
Another exciting example of developments in food science comes from a food scientist named Elizabeth Fenner who used micro- encapsulation to create a “flavor release” ice cream that starts out as vanilla at first taste then transforms into cherry before you swallow it. A short video clip may be viewed on online, “The Next Generation of Ice Cream: One Bite, Two Flavors.”
Tell students that, in this lesson they will act as food scientists working on a product development team to create a winning new trail mix. Each team member will specialize in a certain area such as marketing, food chemistry, graphic design, and cost analysis. Encourage students to feature crops from your home state in their recipes. At the end of the assignment teams will present their products to the class, and will finally eat their science experiments!
Organize students into teams of four and distribute the Product Development Team handouts. As a class, discuss the details of each task and the importance of communication between team members to meet the overall goal of creating a successful new product. Display the Project Grading Rubric for the class to see and discuss. Instruct any students with food allergies to notify the teacher of specific restrictions. Students in each team should share task responsibilities in order to provide all students with an opportunity to experience different aspects of product development.
Provide one class period for students to conduct research and design their plan of action. Before the end of class, the teacher should receive and approve an outline from each team showing a written timeline of steps to complete the project on time.
For homework, each team should conduct a survey to identify favorite trail mix ingredients amongst their target audience. As a class, decide upon the appropriate number of people to survey. Teams may conduct the survey through social media, paper and pencil, or other appropriate methods.
After the survey results are in, each team should gather the preferred ingredients and tools they will need to prepare three slightly different versions of the trail mix recipe and carry out a taste test the next day in class.
Prior to any food preparation, ensure that cooking areas, utensils, and cookware are sanitized and that students have washed their hands. Perishable food items should be properly stored in refrigerators.
Instruct teams to prepare 1⁄4 cup each of three slightly different trail mix variations for their initial team taste tests. Students should follow the taste test instructions provided on the Taste Test Guidelines handout. The trail mix recipe that receives the highest score in the team taste test will be used to develop the team's final trail mix recipe.
After establishing their final trail mix recipe, each team should complete all steps of production listed in the job descriptions for the product development team. Each team should produce one cup of their packaged trail mix product.
As a culmination, product development teams will present their product to the class by using a skit, video, radio broadcast, or other multimedia method.
Hold a taste-test party for students to sample trail mix recipes developed by other teams.
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
Food scientists work in many areas of food processing. They develop new food products, improve methods of food preservation, and study the nutrition and safety of foods.
Food scientists help create and evaluate food labels to determine the nutritional content of food.
Food scientists along with farmers and other professionals assist in establishing a healthy food supply.
Allow students to create other products besides trail mix. Examples include dips, cookies, spreads, jams, etc.
Instruct students to conduct their taste test with a larger sample of people from their selected target group.
If a school kitchen is available, ice cream flavor product development offers many exciting possibilities.
Place ELL students in groups with students who are proficient in English.
Instruct teams to create Spanish, or other language versions of labels and advertisements.
We welcome your feedback! Please take a minute to tell us how to make this lesson better or to give us a few gold stars!
Include a requirement for teams to devise a QR code that links to a Web page ad for their product.
Have students research colleges that offer food science programs and summarize the different pathways of study and job opportunities.
Apply and document an engineering design process that includes identifying criteria and constraints, making representations, testing and evaluation, and refining the design as needed to construct a product or system to solve a problem. For example: Investigate how energy changes from one form to another by designing and constructing a simple roller coaster for a marble.
Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. Students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.
Reason abstractly and quantitatively. Students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.
Attend to precision. Students try to communicate precisely to others. They try to use clear definitions in discussion with others and in their own reasoning. They state the meaning of the symbols they choose, including using the equal sign consistently and appropriately. They are careful about specifying units of measure, and labeling axes to clarify the correspondence with quantities in a problem. They calculate accurately and efficiently, express numerical answers with a degree of precision appropriate for the problem context.