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FHU Students Explore Biology Through Food

Henderson, Tenn. - Jan 02, 2017

Freed-Hardeman University students enrolled in Principles of Biology, a freshman-level general education course, explored basic principles through food this fall. The project was dubbed SciFood.

Dr. Rachel Stevens Salmon, who teaches the course, said students were exposed to various topics, including diffusion, fermentation, metabolism, plant biology, food source sustainability, muscle structure, blood viscosity, biomolecules, water, the scientific method and G protein. Five students performed experiments using the kitchen as a classroom and laboratory.

Typically, the class consisted of a short lecture followed by activities designed to allow students to experience various principles of biology, Salmon said. The twist was that these experiments all involved food and were conducted in the kitchen, not a laboratory. Student perceptions of learning were assessed; the results will be presented to the Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibility (SENCER) Summer Institute in 2017.

“Student learning was positively impacted by this approach,” Salmon said. “Students reported making moderate, good, or great gains in the concepts covered in the class.”

Mary Emilee Lussier, a freshman from Henderson, said, “By having a daily cooking lab, I was able to understand the concepts taught in a more everyday lifestyle way. It made the concepts easier to remember and more fun to learn.”

Salmon has utilized the SENCER method of teaching biology in previous sections. In the past, learning activities have looked at the shortage of water and at AIDS.

SciFood was a part of the university's Engaged Learning Initiative (ELI) which encourages students to engage with powerful ideas in a challenging environment, find their God-given talents and learn how to serve in their future vocations.