Perfect Food Feast: Middle schoolers learn the science behind food 

June 2018 Posted in Community, Food & Drink, School
Middle school students in Mr. Jamsa's eighth grade science class present a Perfect Food Feast (10)

Middle school students in Mr. Jamsa’s eighth grade science class present their Perfect Food Feast. Melissa Wagoner

By Melissa Wagoner

Daniel Jamsa’s eighth grade class prepared a “Perfect Food Feast” of rhubarb crisp, fruit salads, smoothies, spring rolls and so much more for an entire cafeteria packed with hungry guests on May 30.

The purpose of the feast was a scientific one. Jamsa – who has been teaching eighth grade at Silverton Middle School since 1997 – uses the deeply personal subject of food to increase his students’ interest in the science standards he teaches.

“[I]t touches all of the kids,” he explained. “And everyone is making the world better or not with their food choices. Everyone wants to be healthy.”

The project – which lasts throughout the year – is vast and includes scientific topics such as: thermodynamics and how it relates to food production, the interconnection of the food web, climate change, genetically modified organisms and food miles.

“School subjects are not confined strictly to the subjects that we label our classes,” Jamsa said of his outside the box teaching method. “This is a bigger project than many students have ever done before.”

The project – which is a summary of the entire year’s education about food and how it is connected with science – requires students to create their own dietary principles and present them to an audience.

“No one is to say whose criteria are more important than another student’s criteria,” Jamsa said. “[It’s] very personal.”

Although the topic is immense, Jamsa has the utmost confidence in his students and what they can achieve – one of the many reasons he likes teaching this age group.

“They are genuine. They are funny. They can fly to great heights when excited,” he said.

This year marked the third Perfect Food Feast and was the best one so far according to Jamsa.

“The participation has been fantastic from all spectrum of students,” Jamsa said. “The quality of the research is improving. The event is building.”

Along with the tools of science, Jamsa hopes this course taught his students “[t]hat their food choices matter both for their personal health and for the world.”

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