FST students teach middle school girls the fun of food science

FST and Stem kids
Rebecca Johnson

On Saturday, April 25, several graduate students in FST participated in the annual STEM for Girls event. This event, now in its third year, was started as an effort to get middle school aged girls from nearby communities interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

Last year the department of Food Science & Technology taught the girls the science behind butter. The year before that the focus was on the science of ice cream. 

This year we took a new approach by creating mini activities or games that focused on the sensory aspects of food. In the "Juice Challenge" led by Sara Yang, girls were tasked with identifying juices that had been diluted and colored to hide their identity in order to teach how our eyes trick our senses. In the "Texture Station" Maha Alshehab answered the burning questions of "What is gluten?" and "What does it do in bread and other baked goods?". In the "Aroma Challenge" led by Zeya Xue, girls tried to identify ten common foods by aroma alone. Ryan Dowdy illustrated the difference between taste and aroma by having the girls try jelly beans with their noses plugged and then without. Jade Liu created a wonderful take home activity about how salt can enhance the flavor in Hot Chocolate. 

The event was fantastically successful and the girls asked our volunteers excellent questions about food and food science. Rebecca Johnson, organizer of the food science activities and volunteers, was extremely proud of all the work the volunteers did, how smoothly things went and the enthusiastic interest of the girls participating. 

Read more about STEM for Girls here.