My name is Jared Jones. I am the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher here at Roncalli Catholic High School. These past two weeks my Intro to Baking and Intro to Foods and Nutrition classes were learning about the importance of safety and sanitation in the kitchen. Every year it seems that the looming threat of the flu virus is all around us. These lessons help us understand how to keep ourselves safe from these viruses and bacteria, as well as keeping the food we eat safe from foodborne illness. It all starts at the sink with hot water and soap.
The lessons starts off in the kitchen. What we were making was different from the average cookies or tacos lab you might come to expect from the FCS room. We were making bacteria soup. Well, kind of… We swabbed different surfaces around the school that we commonly come into contact with: drinking fountains, door handles, basketballs, keyboards, hair, etc. Once we collected our samples we spread what we collected onto special Petri dishes and let the bacteria do its work.
Throughout the week we waited patiently while taking notes and doing other activities and lessons. After one week we took the Petri dishes back into the kitchen and opened them up to an eye-opening slurry of the world of microbes all around us.
Well, that’s all well and good but now we have the question of, “so how can we prepare and protect ourselves from the dangers around the kitchen?” We answered those questions and more the next week. We got right on the case, using our detective skills we suited up, grabbed an iPad ready for some finite note taking and got hot on the trail of danger. Early one morning I went into the kitchens and set up a “crime scene” full of dangerous scenarios commonly found in the kitchen. To ensure student safety, I set up a perimeter with caution tape. The situations included spills on the floor, pot handles hanging off the stoves, dirty towels where they shouldn’t be, raw egg and meat touching fresh-made meals, cleaning solution spilled into food, the list goes on.
The students then used their observation skills to identify over 30 situations where there was a potential danger in the kitchen. From raw meat to flour spilled on the floor, students were hard on the case. During the process, they learned about how they can prevent or solve the different types of hazards that we encounter when using the kitchens. I try to help the students understand that the kitchen is first and foremost a potentially dangerous place. Especially when handling 400-degree ovens, searing hot pans, sharp knives, potentially slick floors, and the danger of improperly cooking foods. These real-world skills can prevent these hazards from occurring and once conquered, makes the kitchen far more fun and an exploratory learning environment.
I think these sorts of lessons need to be integrated into school more so than they are currently. Roncalli Catholic does a great job allowing its teachers and staff creative freedom with lessons like these. It’s the hands-on experience that I think engrains learning into the students and makes the lessons more applicable and fun. I know I enjoy them more than lecturing day in and day out from bell to bell. It’s a nice break from the monotonous to roleplay as a detective.
Paige and Emme, students in Mr. Jones’ class say “We enjoyed Mr. Jones’ activity because it helped us realize that there are many safety hazards that we need to take into consideration. First, we walked into the room and he had caution tape around the kitchen. It was blocking off all of the safety hazards. Then, we had to do an activity on our iPads explaining what hazards we saw and why those hazards are dangerous. We had 6 minutes to try and find all of the hazards and when everyone was finished, we had a class discussion. During the discussion, Mr. Jones explained to us why we need to take precautions in the kitchen. Overall, this activity made us realize that people need to be more aware of what to do in a kitchen, especially if you are making other peoples’ food.”