Socially-distanced salsa

Nicole Silvers teaches science in Toledo, Ohio. After attending the Ohio Soybean Council- and CIFT-sponsored Field to Package workshop, she was excited to implement the salsa-making activity in her Botany class at Ottawa Hills High School. Quarantined due to COVID-19, she had to make some changes to the activity she’d originally planned. She taught her students online about different fruits and had them perform the lab at home.

To make the lab as understandable and engaging as possible, Silvers first taught her students about how fruits are identified, then they went through a series of examples of different types of fruits. First they identified the three main types of fruits: simple, aggregate and multiple. Next, they further divided the fruits into subcategories: pepos, drupes, pomes, hesperidium, dry (dehiscent and indehiscent) fruits, or aggregate fruits. After identifying the characteristics that determine a fruit’s category, Silvers said, “We were finally able to have some fun as a class and perform the lab!”

The students were given the challenge of creating their own unique salsa recipe, following a few guidelines. They were instructed to include the recipe, a table that designated the specific group that each fruit belonged in, a picture or video of them making their salsa, and a “taste-test” form that someone in their family completed after tasting the salsa.

Silvers said, “I believe this activity was an overall success. I asked the students for feedback and they all enjoyed this activity, although some of them said they miss class and would have liked to make the salsa in class together. They did like the hands-on approach to using what they were learning, and they also indicated that it was fun to eat their lab results. This usually doesn’t happen in science classes!” Silvers was pleased at how well the lab activity went, despite the challenges faced by doing the activity during quarantine. “Some of them had to order their food from the grocery store days in advance,” said Silvers.

She gave high praise to the workshop. “I loved learning about CIFT and how food is processed from farm to table. Next year, I want to incorporate a trip or guest speaker from both CIFT and Willy’s Salsa. I foresee that I can add more elements to this activity each year.”

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