By: Bethany Richardson
Although food science is not a subject many students encounter until college, Dr. Keith Cadwallader’s flavor analysis lab group at the University of Illinois helped bring a little food science to a younger group. Robeson Elementary in Champaign, IL, hosts a yearly math and science night for students of all grade levels. To make food science approachable for children in this age group, we based our demonstration on something most children enjoy- ice cream! Simple ice creams were prepared using milk, cream, sugar, and either vanilla or strawberry flavoring, cooled with liquid nitrogen. In addition, toppings were provided that included trivia on how the candy was made, as well as history of the product.
While activities like this might just appear simply as a fun activity, they help to serve a greater purpose. The majority of children, as well as their parents, are unfamiliar with the field of food science. Taking advantage of teaching opportunities, such as this math and science night, allow us as food science students to reach out to children and their parents to teach them a little about the field of food science. Even though these children are too young to truly know what they want to do as a career, demonstrations like these can help to spark an interest in science. Although I didn’t decide on food science until high school, I can still vividly remember watching a scientist make a hammer out of a banana and liquid nitrogen when I was very young. I really enjoy being able to reach out to students of a younger generation, and I encourage all members of IFT to do the same. The food industry will only continue to grow, and it is important to develop a new batch of students who are passionate about the field.
What have you done with your food science club or lab group to spread the word and reach out to our next generation of food scientists? We need some more ideas!