Going out on a STEM: K-State Olathe educates secondary students about sensory and food science careers

Monday, November 5, 2012

by Kristi Northcutt

More than 200 secondary students from the Blue Valley School District will participate in a first-of-its-kind program in food and sensory science at Kansas State University Olathe in November and December. The program will educate students about careers in these areas, as well as enhance their knowledge of science and math.

Blue Valley West will participate Nov. 5 from 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Blue Valley Northwest High School on Nov. 7; and Blue Valley Southwest and Blue Valley Academy on Dec. 4.

Students and sponsoring adults will participate in three labs:

* Breaking egg challenge, a culinary challenge for students to properly cook and prepare one egg to the right temperature using science and food safety principles

* A food safety presentation, at which students will learn about food safety and how it impacts their daily lives

* A sensory presentation, where students will participate in a taste study designed by K-State Olathe’s Sensory Center team, learning how to create and lead their own study

"This K-12 program is unlike any other program in the country because it provides a rare opportunity for students to learn about science through a hands-on food science and sensory approach," said Micheal Strohschein, director of K-12 Science Education Partnerships at K-State Olathe.

"Without a program like this, students would not have the opportunity to learn about this relatively unknown career that is very important to the food industry," said Marianne Swaney-Stueve, manager of the Sensory and Consumer Research Center at K-State Olathe. "Large companies are continually recruiting sensory scientists, and it is our goal to make students aware of the field and hopefully interest a few of them to pursue an education that would prepare them for the job.”

Food programs and services manager Bryan Severns said, "This a unique and innovative approach to sensory science, food safety, food science and culinary know-how in one activity-drenched program with the goal to show the students the interconnectedness of the all the disciplines while they also have fun.”

This program is available by contacting Strohschein at 913-307-7342 or by email at mistroh@k-state.edu. More information about K-12 outreach opportunities is also available on the K-State Olathe website at www.olathe.k-state.edu.

Kansas State University Olathe advances the mission of Kansas State University by integrating education, research and entrepreneurship, focused on animal health, food safety and security, to meet the needs of a rapidly changing world.