By: Bethany Richardson
Last week, my lab participated in a math and science activity night at one of the local elementary schools, teaching children about the field of food science. You may remember my article from last year, where we created liquid nitrogen ice cream for the same event. Although we still served ice cream (what better way to grab the attention of 100 elementary-age kids?), our activities were more centered around the main area of research in the Cadwallader lab- flavor analysis.
We had three different stations where the kids had to use their noses to solve various puzzles. Two of these stations focused on having the children determine odors in Teflon sniff bottles, where the contents were concealed. One only contained different varieties of snack chips and the other an array of odors from orange to coffee.
At the station that I manned, I used jelly beans to demonstrate the concept of retronasal aroma perception. Each child was given a jelly bean and asked to taste it with his or her nose pinched and then again without pinching. They were very surprised at the difference! Even the parents were interested to learn that most of what we call “flavor” is actually perceived by the nose rather than the tongue.
Although this event only happens once per year, I really enjoy getting to teach members of the community about food science. As discussed in previous Science Meets Food articles, the field of food science is ever-increasing and will require a larger workforce in the years to come. Hopefully events like this, particularly those in high schools, will help to increase awareness of this career path!
Does your group or food science club participate in educational events from the community? We’d love to hear about your experiences and ideas!