Developing Experiments to Answer Questions about Nutrition

Students in Marnie Steele's 7th grade Honors Science class have been exercising their scientific minds when it comes to understanding their nutrition decisions and overall health. After reading Michael Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma at the start of the year, the young scientists discovered that many of the food items they put in their bodies may not be everything they seem. They were concerned about false advertising, pesticide contamination, nutritive values, and much more. Just how much do we really know about the foods we eat every day? And how do our consumption habits affect our physical and mental performance?

These questions are becoming hypotheses, and those hypotheses are becoming experiments as students think through the possibilities of what can be tested. As thought partners and collaborators, students have been paired with volunteer mentors through the International Telementor Program, run by Mr. David Neils. From their website:

"The International Telementor Program (ITP) facilitates electronic mentoring relationships between professional adults and students worldwide, and is recognized as the leader in the field of academic based mentoring. Since 1995 over 46,000 students throughout eleven countries have received support, encouragement, and professional guidance. ITP serves students in K-12 and home school environments as well as college and university settings."     Through the program, students are paired with mentors who help them think through their ideas, refine those thoughts, and produce quality work. In Ms. Steele's class, the students collaborate with their mentors to refine their research and develop their experiments. Some of the experiments being developed include testing the effects of hydration on cognitive ability, comparing pesticide levels on organically vs. conventionally grown produce, nutrition values of foods after different cooking methods, and many more. The level of enthusiasm and engagement in class is palpable as students are working on authentic questions whose answers influence their everyday lives.  Stay tuned as their experiments progress. There will be a presentation night sometime in May where students will be explaining their findings to the community... you won't want to miss it!