Vol. 19, No. 38

Aug. 24, 2000

Workshop educates teachers on food science

Many people consider cooking an art, but the average person probably gives little thought to the creative efforts that start on the farm and end on the supermarket shelf.

In between, much effort is expended in the food production and preparation industry, which is hungry for the services of recent college graduates with the appropriate scientific backgrounds.

To help meet this demand, UD played host this summer to "The World of Science in Food," an interactive workshop designed to help area teachers meet new state standards, while also exposing students to one of the fastest growing areas of science.

"Food science covers everything from the farm to the table," Yang-Ming Lo, animal and food sciences, said. "It is important because it involves such issues as controling quality to ensure consumer safety as well as development of convenient, sometimes ready-to-eat foods."

Lo, who teaches food processing and food engineering as part of the department's food science and food technology curriculum, said the idea for this first-ever workshop for teachers surfaced during a meeting of the career guidance commission at the Institute of Food Technology (IFT), located in Chicago. Grant monies for the workshops came from the IFT, with supporting grants from UD departments and local food industry sponsors.

The workshop, which focused on helping teachers find ways to teach food science in their classrooms, included a luncheon panel discussion with industry specialists and a trip to the new DuPont Co. food science facility on Elkton Road.

"We showed them how nature works, and how these basic principles are used in the food processing and preparation," Lo said. "These are things teachers Food Science Workshop-1 can use in their science courses, whether they teach biology, chemistry, physics, foods and nutrition or agricultural science."?

The participants also received supplies furnished by the sponsors that they could take back for in-class demonstrations.

In addition to helping teachers generate new ideas for classroom application, the workshop–which awarded 2/5 in-service credit for teachers from Delaware–also was designed to help students and teachers meet new state-mandated educational standards.

"We want to let students know about the food science and food technology major here at UD, and that it is about science, not cooking," Lo said. "We also want to get students thinking about nutrition, and we hope they will pass on what they have learned to other students."

With an average starting salary for college graduates of $38,500, the food science industry offers careers in flavor testing, packaging research, product development and quality control at food companies, spice and flavor developers, government agencies and research organizations.

"In food science, you apply scientific principles and you also get to see the results of your efforts," Lo said. "You get the sense of making a real contribution, and experiments are always better when you get paid well for doing them."

The main problem facing Lo and his fellow faculty members in food science and food technology is not having enough students to meet the demands of industry representatives.

"We have an excellent reputation here at UD, and the industry is very supportive of our efforts," Lo said.


Jerry Rhodes