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The Classroom as a Platform for Community Engagement with Food Production and Science

2022

This is a collaborative multi disciplinary research project that is centered around student led research into the origins of their commonly consumed industrialized food items (e.g., breakfast cereals, yogurts, snacks, etc.) . In a multiple stage class project, teenagers (aged 13-16) will learn about the history of industrial food production (in collaboration with food science researchers and using a range of visual materials, e.g. info-graphics) and develop a survey to learn about commonly consumed food products in their community. Then, in small groups, each group will focus on one popular item as they investigate how it is manufactured, what are the different ingredients, and how could they be manufactured in a healthier way. They will also participate in a food ambassador program where they will  develop science communication related leadership skills. Their final project will include a public campaign to disseminate their finding to engage the food industry and their community. This process will be done simultaneously in the participating countries (Poland, Israel, Finland, and Belgium) and at the end all students will connect online. The results of students' inquiry will be shared using a social media tool kit and templates (e.g. on for the school’s websites and newsletters) provided by the project.

Our project is focused on engaging teenagers with the benefits, opportunities, and challenges in food production through student-led research into the origins of their commonly consumed industrialized food items. Further, the project supports the students in developing their own communication campaigns to engage and inspire them around what they have learned about food processing techniques, why processing is needed, the role of industrialized processed foods in (un)healthy nutrition, food safety and food waste. Whilst 2020 served as a proof-of-concept for the project and 2021 will see its expansion from two to four countries, 2022 will focus on solidifying the concept by designing a ‘use-it-anytime’ online toolkit and ensuring sustainability through outreach to teaching communities across Europe. In addition, 2022 will also see the expansion and adaptation of our the school modules into science museums activities and workshops.
In a multiple-stage class project, students will learn about the history of industrial food production (in collaboration with food science researchers) and develop a survey to learn about commonly consumed food products in their community. Then, in small groups, each group will focus on one popular item as they investigate how it is manufactured, what are the different ingredients, and how could they be manufactured in a healthier way. In addition, the students will also learn about evaluating online resources and sources related to food science, healthy diets, and food waste. After a science communication workshop their final project will include a public campaign to disseminate their findings to engage the food industry and their schools, peers, and community. This process will be done simultaneously in the participating countries (Poland, Israel, Finland, and Belgium), and at the end, students will meet online for a youth food forum. The results of students' inquiry will be shared through social media and other digital platforms. EUFIC will support the development of materials to engage with the students on food science (e.g. infographics) in an accessible way as well as a social media tool kit and templates that can be used by the students to share their work. The uniqueness of this project is in demonstrating for teenagers the holistic character of the global food system and empowering them to be active communicators and contributors. In 2022, the focus will be to shape classroom materials into a toolkit that is ready-to-use for teachers in 5 languages (English, Polish, Hebrew, Finnish, Flemish and Spanish).  Further, a mapping exercise will identify national and international resource platforms for teachers through which the toolkits can be promoted and ensure relevant target audiences are reached. This project is developed in close collaboration with multiple stakeholders: EUFIC – a non -profit science communication organization dedicated to topics such as nutrition, lifestyle and health, and food safety; Science Educators from the Technion, Science communication trainers from Technion; and experts from the Institute of Animal Reproduction and Food Research of Polish Academy of Sciences. Food Banks in Poland working on zero waste cooking and education on food loss and waste prevention, and VTT in Finland and Rikolto in Belgium who will also implement the project. DouxMatok are providing interesting materials on the food tech industry as well as on the role of sugars in manufacturing foods. 

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