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Love Food, Love Science relaunched

Andrew Gardner provides an update on IFST’s work to promote food science education.

Food education

Following the Education Forum of 2015, IFST set about a programme of work to ensure a greater focus on food science and technology in secondary education. This initiative was particularly driven by the loss of the Food Technology ‘A’ Level and the introduction of the new GCSE in Food Preparation and Nutrition. Since then, IFST has been working with the Food Teachers Centre and linking up with the Food and Drink Federation, the British Nutrition Foundation and the Chilled Food Association to take this work forward.

Our work to influence education policy makers and governments is a key policy priority; we continue to call on the UK Government to recognise that food is an excellent vehicle to teach children science, supporting priorities in public health, an innovative economy and the need to move towards a more sustainable food system. We accept that it takes time to shift policy priorities and develop curricula but concerted effort alongside our partners will see a dividend in the medium term.

In the shorter term, IFST is well placed to have an immediate positive impact on the education and career choices of the students of today.

Pilot study

In spring 2016, we ran a small pilot of a mentoring scheme with the aim of bringing schools and food scientists together to support the delivery of the new GCSE.

The feedback from teachers, students and mentors involved was overwhelmingly positive. We used the pilot to develop a business case and by mid- December 2016, the IFST Board approved a project to redevelop the ‘Love Food, Love Science’ website to focus on meeting the needs of secondary school food and science teachers, bringing together the various strands from the Education Forum.

Food investigation

We worked with the Food Teachers Centre in early 2017 to look at the resources available to food technology teachers. We discovered plenty of food related resources but that teachers were hard-pushed to identify what was relevant and credible; they just wanted quick access to resources they could trust.

We also found that the ‘food investigation’ non-examined element of the new GCSE (15% marks) was a source of anxiety among some food teachers. Our research also showed that basic food science concepts, particularly for new or less able students, were absent or fairly limited in many existing resources.

Addressing these issues, Love Food, Love Science aims to focus on the food investigation element of the new GCSE, signpost credible video and text resources for use in the classroom and enable teachers to access food science mentors (IFST members).

The food investigation is a key opportunity for IFST to improve student outcomes and the success of the course generally. With the kind help of PhD student, Holly Cuthill, we filmed five videos in March 2017 to help students understand:

• how to plan, research and come up with a hypothesis

• how to conduct experiments and what makes a fair test

• how to take measurements

• how to analyse and interpret results and

• how to sum up and present their findings.

By the summer, we had finished preparing resources and we relaunched ‘Love Food, Love Science’ in June 2017.

Since the relaunch, a handful of schools from around the country have been put in touch with IFST mentors for help with things like the mechanical properties of food, how to form a hypothesis and describing a mentor’s journey in the food industry (as part of a careers event).

We were pleased to welcome new mentors in the autumn, which will enable even more schools to benefit from the mentoring service.

Our challenge is to ensure that the Love Food, Love Science resources remain up-to-date in terms of the science, fresh for the students and relevant to the new GCSE as it develops.

Resources

Encouragingly, since the relaunch, the Love Food, Love Science website has been receiving around 2000 unique page views per day (150 prior to that), making up a sizeable chunk of IFST’s website traffic. The pattern of the school year and the fact that 2017-18 is the first to see GCSE Food Preparation and Nutrition students sit their exams meant that autumn 2017 was always destined to be busy. Our challenge is to ensure that the Love Food, Love Science resources remain up-to-date in terms of the science, fresh for the students and relevant to the new GCSE as it develops.

In response to those challenges, we have enlisted the support of a recent graduate, Jessica Giovanni, to help keep the food science and technology content fresh and accessible to young people and teachers. In addition, we are:

• monitoring feedback from schools and mentors

• identifying resources for secondary school science at KS3 and KS4 in Chemistry, Biology and Physics to enhance Love Food Love Science resources

• exploring if a food science focused competition aimed at 11-14-year olds – Love Food, Love Science School Challenge – could help to generate and maintain interest in food science

• developing materials to use at outreach events, such as ‘Big Bang! near me’ events

• spreading the word through our partners and relevant media.

Get involved

Become a Love Food, Love Science mentor, suggest resources, help us influence education policy or promote food science in the wider science curriculum.

Andrew Gardner

IFST Operations Director

Email a.gardner@ifst.org

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