Wednesday 27 April 2011

A Geological Event

Food and geology have an intimate connection; the communicating of geoscience via a familiar objects and tasks is more likely to enable a knowledge uptake aspect of science and society.  Children love to cook, with a variety of cookbooks aimed at the younger, demographic it seems useful to utilise food in order to discuss a variety of geological ideas.  The intention of these recipes is not to make food that appears like the geological feature, but the discuss geological principles within the outline of foodstuff.

In the UK education is provided within a framework, termed ‘Key Stages’ these are designed to ensure that all children have similar knowledge of all subjects, but still allow flexibility within the school’s provision of education (National Curriculum, 1999). They are split into four separate stages, which lead a child’s education from starting school (KS1) to completion of their GCSE’s at 16 years old (KS4). Within the first two ‘Key Stages’, education is commonly delivered via ‘learning journeys’ (Hargreaves, 2005) whereby a topic is chosen (say for example, mountains) and lessons are delivered around this theme (average heights of mountains in maths, or Wandsworth poetry in English etc) . I have attempted to fit the different recipes / food techniques into Key Stages 1 and 2 within specific areas of the taught courses that they compose of, in order to do this I have related each recipe to the National Curriculum and the aspect of science it can be fitted into a learning journey or similar.   

In addition to providing a more comfortable manner of communicating geoscience, the addition of cookery into a geoscience framework allows for the potential of a learning journey to utilise this work in order to deliver two, often overlooked areas of the Primary School curriculum.  Recipes are simple to follow and can be performed without advanced cookery skills, sharp knives are not utilised for any recipes (allowing children full involvement) and discussion is tailored to a child’s understanding. It is important to consider how students learn, this project allows students who learn by doing, seeing and listening to discover new ideas, with the comparison of something unfamiliar to something familiar particularly good at teaching ideas to children with special needs (Ingersoll et al, 2003).

The table below is the recipes utilised in this project, with the geological ideas and key stage and area of study  it is pitched towards.  The recipes (and blog post) could be used  for other events, for example an event at a museum or utilised in people’s homes.
Geological Idea
Concept, Key Stage and Area of study within National Curriculum,
Boiled Egg
Layers of Earth
Ks1-2 KS2 Sc4 Physical Processes> The Earth and beyond
Chocolate Brownies
Cumulate Textures
2 KS2 Sc3 Materials and their properties*> Separating mixtures of materials/ Changing materials
Flapjack and Slate
Slate Formation
KS2 Sc4 Physical processes> Forces and motion
Layered Cake
KS2 Sc4 Physical processes> Forces and motion & KS1 Sc4 Physical processes > Forces and motion
Jam Tarts
2 – Expansion 2 (KS2 Sc3 Materials and their properties*>Changing materials)
Crispy Jelly Sandwich
Crustal Rheology
 Sc3 Materials and their properties*
Lasagne Sheets
Thrust Fault generation
KS2 Sc4 Physical processes> Forces and motion
Sugar crystallization
Mineral crystallization
KS2 Sc3 Materials and their properties*>Changing materials & KS1 Sc3 Materials and their properties > Changing materials
Making Chocolate Pillow Lavas
Pillow Lavas chilled margin
KS2 Sc3 Materials and their properties*>Changing materials
Expansion KS2 Sc3 Materials and their properties*>Changing materials & KS1 Sc3 Materials and their properties > Changing materials

* within this area of study children are expected ‘to describe and group rocks and soils on the basis of their characteristics, including appearance, texture and permeability ‘therefore this allows for a direct link into the geosciences.

An event in which these procedures could be used in would be a school visit, therefore I have chosen to plan it as such. The discussions below are simply a basic framework of 
considerations in order to allow children full comprehension of the ideas.


Transport to the outreach project would be via car, It is not sensible to consider that foodstuffs and cooking equipment may be conveyed via public transport, this presents limited problems – it can be assumed that parking spaces would be available

Timetabling possibly the most difficult part of organising an event, there are extensive pressures on Primary Schools to deliver the best teaching for the time they have with children, and they may be reluctant to allow a change to the scheduled lessons. However, a visitor coming in could be beneficial, since although teaching staff would be required, teachers would not need to develop intensive plans for the session and the novelty of a visitor coming into the school could interest children whom may be otherwise disconcerted with some subjects (such as science) and expand subject knowledge of both pupils and 

‘Healthy Schools’ Given the rising weight related problems of the UK’s youth a number of schools have implemented healthy menu’s and brought in restrictions of foodstuffs that can be consumed within the school. Many of the recipes utilised for this project are high in fat, sugar and contain limited nutrition – therefore it may be difficult to include all of the foodstuffs within this project.

‘Fairtrade and Religious Belief’ A growing number of schools in the UK are adopting Fairtrade policies, which could restrict some of the products used; therefore I have ensured that all ingredients, where applicable can be sourced ethically, eggs would be free range. All of the recipes are vegetarian (allowing full participation) and contain no ingredients forbidden under more commonplace religious belief.

Health and Safety
Within an educational environment children and their parents have an expectation of complete safety, therefore I will need to abide by any restrictions put in place by the school.

Peanuts for example are a major risk factor, with current estimates are that it affects 1.8% of children at school entry (Peanut Allergy UK) while eggs, an ingredient commonly utilised within these recipes is a significant allergen for young children – although most grow out of the disorder before entering school (Asthma and Allergy Assoc of America). Nuts within the brownies are a problem, however in the event there is a nut allergy sufferer nuts could be removed from the recipe and replaced by different chocolate types.  In order to mitigate the risk of discomfort for affected children the school would be contacted prior to arrival and potentially some recipes may be discounted.

Food hygiene is a very important point; although no meat is being utilized there is a risk of salmonella from eggs and some of the cooking techniques used could cause burns to participants. Therefore, all eggs will be derived from inoculated hens and well within use by dates.  I currently hold a food safety certificate and have a knowledge of food safety.

Burns: Some of the techniques used carry a burns risk; they will be performed by a adult, with a qualified first aider on hand. Children will be required to wash hands thoroughly with an antibacterial wash before starting cooking in order to control infection. Full abidance by the schools H+S code will be performed at all times.

Pupil Disobedience:
An event of any kind is a change to the routine of school (Richardson, 1988); this could lead to pupils becoming exciting and not behaving within their usual manner, given that the recipes include heating substances there is a risk of burns. The teacher’s guidance will be followed to ensure that everyone remains safe at all times.


Pupil Understanding Although the concepts utilised within these recipes are tailored towards the individual Key Stages which build upon what children are taught earlier during their school career, however children may not have learnt the ideas, or may simply have forgotten them. Therefore it is important to be prepared to go ‘back to basics’ in order to allow all children to grasp the ideas being put forward, regular informal checks on the pupils understanding will be carried out – with further explanation given as required.

Staff Comprehension: Secondary to the understanding of the pupils the level of understanding within the staff could be an issue; experience from volunteering at previous science events has taught me that children view adults as all knowing – and therefore there could be problems with incorrect information being transferred to the children. There are limited ways to mitigate this – and therefore it may simply be a case of getting staff to rely any questions to the demonstrator rather than providing answers themselves.

Linking between food and reality: It is important to the comprehension of the children that they can relate what they are seeing in the food to real world effects. Therefore heavy use of images, videos, diagrams and a variety of different learning methods will be used to give guaranteed. There is potential for a brief, media rich PowerPoint presentation to be given alongside the demonstrations (i.e. so when we are discussing cake faulting, show some faults). By linking the recipes into the Key Stages, discussions on rheology or layers of the earth can be performed after the children have been taught those subjects – ensuring that children have the best opportunities to understand the analogues using food.

Cooking Time: The Brownies, for example take up to 40 minutes to cook (more on an ineffective oven), if the event is introducing a number of different ideas to pupils they are likely to lose concentration as food cooks (as begins to smell!). Therefore it seems sensible, for things that need to be cooked for them to be pre-made for simple demonstration. Recipe and explanation cards will be  handed out for children and parents to make the food together – or could be re-visited at a later date by the school.

Due to of the scope of this event (it could be used in any school), I have chosen not to tailor this to an individual school. Minor modifications can be easily made (recipes removed or added) depending on the school’s preferences or facilities.

The recipes are in the blog named

Articles Cited:
Asthma and Allergy Association of America. (2005). Egg Allergy.Available: Last accessed 26th April, 2011.
Hargreaves, E. (2005). Assessment for learning? Thinking outside the (black) box. Cambridge Journal of Education, 35(2), 213-224.
Ingersoll, B., Schreibman, L., Tran, Q. (2003). The effect of sensory feedback on immediate object imitation in children with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33, 673–683.
Peanut Allergy UK. (2007). Basic Informaiton. Available: Last accessed 26th April, 2011.
Richardson, D., (1988). Why Children Misbehave. Oaklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. t-2325,1-5.
The National Curriculum for England: Key Stages 1-4 (1999) ‘Science’ The National Curriculum for England: Key Stages 1-4. London: Department for Education: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority

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