Reflection: Coaching and Mentoring DESIGN CHALLENGE: Food labels (2 of 2) - Section 4: EVALUATE: Presentation and application


A central idea of this course is that STEM is not just content to be learned in class, but a framework for interacting with the world that can positively impact a community.  This DESIGN CHALLENGE pushes students to develop solutions to a real world problem that might be used in the community.  Redesigned food labels might actually influence consumer behavior.

This matters, because as students explored in the Environmental Justice unit, public health in Sunset Park could improve.  One reason for poor public health might be proximity to toxic contaminants.  Another might be consumer habits and the industrial food system.  This is especially true of the high rates of diabetes in the community.  

Redesigned food labels, then, are an example of applying STEM coursework to social justice issues.  As students explored in the Community Food Survey lessons, Sunset Park has qualities of a food desert; residents may not have easy access to healthy food.  And even if residents do have access, they may not have the information they need to make informed choices.  Moreover, much of the food purchased from local markets and bodegas epitomizes the products of an industrial food system.  By purchasing such convenience food as chips, sodas, fast food, and candy, residents are complicit in an industrial food system that is damaging to both human health and environmental health.  

While redesigned food labels alone will not solve this problem, they are a starting point.  With more accurate information, residents can potential make more informed choices.  They may also begin to lobby business and political leaders to change the types of food available in the Sunset Park community.

  STEM for social justice
  Coaching and Mentoring: STEM for social justice
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DESIGN CHALLENGE: Food labels (2 of 2)

Unit 5: Food (biosphere and geosphere)
Lesson 10 of 24

Objective: In this multi-day "lesson" students will be able to 1) develop a redesigned food label utilizing design elements that surface the normally hidden costs of modern food production; 2) present redesigned food labels to peers; 3) facilitate discussion about how redesigned food labels might be used in the real world; and 4) select an actionable idea to propose to the community.

Big Idea: The current food label describes the ingredients and nutritional content of food. How might we redesign the current food label to more accurately capture the total impact of modern food production, especially environmental costs?

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