Organism Energy Transfer

Organism Energy Transfer

Middle School

Invite a Local Perspective

Ask students to brainstorm questions that may want answered from a professional in the field of nutrition. Invite a dietician, nurse (from your school district or local hospital), or nutritionist to speak about their career and the impact that nutrition takes on health. Like all other health professionals, nutritionists are motivated by a concern to improve people’s quality of life. Food manufacturers, advertisers, marketers, and some enlightened restaurateurs employ nutritionists to organize, develop, analyze, test, and prepare meals that are low in fat and cholesterol and virtually devoid of chemical additives. Nutritionists usually specialize in one of three major areas of practice: clinical, community, or administrative management. They develop, implement, and maintain nutritional programs for populations, such as individuals in hospitals, nursing homes, retirement communities, day care centers, and prisons. Before proposing or implementing any dietary program, nutritionists must consult with doctors or other health professionals to ensure that medical and dietary needs are optimized. Ask the speaker to include scientific information about how food is analyzed. They may also speak about the cause and effect of unhealthy diets (how eating habits are responsible for diseases, affect mood, energy levels, etc). Students may also use the internet to research health professionals and their role in promoting healthy diets.

Food Diary

For one week, students may record on a chart their daily intake of food and beverages for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks. Students may also use on-line food logs to record their daily intake. At the end of the week, students will analyze their diets according to the USDA food pyramid and the recommended food groups. They may categorize foods into proteins, carbohydrates (starches) and caloric value. After analyzing their diets, they may choose to write smart goals to improve their eating habits or make informed food choices. A second week of journaling could be used to compare their results.
Some internet resources include:

Food Labels: Where’s the Sugar?

Ask students to bring in the nutrition labels of various foods and beverages. Ask them to analyze nutrition labels for their content such as serving size, calorie count, total carbohydrates, fiber, sodium, cholesterol, types of fat, vitamins, sugar content (glucose, fructose, syrup, etc). Provide students with resources that will help them analyze the labels: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition: “How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Label”:
Ask students to write conclusions about what they learned, revelations or surprises they may have had about food content, servings, etc. What would it mean to be a smart consumer? How do food manufacturers hide hidden sugars? How does a particular food compare nutritionally to another? How does this relate to my own eating habits?

Trace the Energy Please

Students may want to research food energy and its relation expressed in calories or joules. The calorie is a very small measure of energy so the food calorie (kilocalorie, kcal), 1000 calories, is more often used and is what food packaging usually refers to when showing calorific value. Refer students to calorie measurement tables to do their conversions. Next step, explore recipes and determine the caloric count of each item. Recreate a recipe that would be low fat or low in calories.