If you’re looking for ways to incorporate project-based learning into your Health class, (and let’s be honest here, you should be!) then why not start in your own cafeteria?
Kick off the project by watching this awesome documentary from HBO about the Rethinkers, a group of students in New Orleans who set out to get fresh, healthy food in their schools as they were rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina.
Then take the students over to your cafeteria with a survey sheet, and have them answer some questions about what’s on offer, and whether or not they can get their nutrition needs met.
Project Sheet: Cafeteria Observation
We’re lucky at our school, we’ve got a great salad bar, and lots of different options for balance. We’re also K-12, so we were able to take the 6th graders over to observe the high school kids eating lunch. Wait… they eat their veggies? I want to eat my veggies too!
The sad fact is though, that the majority of other schools aren’t so lucky. If your school is one of them, hopefully this activity will inspire your students to ask for healthier choices. This new campaign, Fed Up from the ever-awesome DoSomething.org, could give them a great place to start.
It’s full of resources, including The Advocacy Kit, which gives students step-by-step instructions on how to bring about change. It’s got tips, checklists, and even suggestions for best practice, like “Be positive” and “Respect whomever you are speaking with”.
Here’s a way to hit all of the skill-based standards (communication, goal-setting, advocacy) while making the content relevant to every single student.
When they’re able to see the impact of their actions (ours just got to have a tasting with the cafeteria manager to test out some of their suggestions), then they get inspired to find other causes, hopefully sparking a passion for advocacy.
Of course, we’ll have wait and see what the high school students think about that new whole wheat pizza crust first…
For more on the cafeteria situation in the U.S., check out some of these recent articles from NPR Health:
And From Edutopia, here are some great resources and ideas to help revamp any nutrition unit….
These could also work in an elementary class or as a weekend activity for the family.