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Create a Food Allergen Alert Device or System

Students will brainstorm ideas for a device or system that would alert people to food allergens. They will draw pictures or create a prototype of their ideas. Then they will write a brief summary explaining how their device or system works.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, compile a list of common food allergens. Invite volunteers to describe how different food allergens affect them or someone they know. Point out that many people have food allergies, and some people are affected more severely than others. Plus, some people have rare food allergies that don't impact the majority of the population.
  2. Discuss reasons why it is important for people with allergies to be able to identify all ingredients in the foods they eat. Then discuss how ingredients are (or are not) identified on food packaging or in restaurant menus.
  3. Instruct students to brainstorm ideas for a device or system that would alert people to potential allergens in the foods they purchase. Encourage them to draw a picture or create a prototype of their idea. Then have students write a brief summary explaining or how their device or system works.

ASSESSMENT:

Invite students to share their ideas with the class. Encourage classmates to discuss the merits of each device or system. Challenge them to identify improvements that could make the device or system an even more effective way of identifying food allergens.

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:

Grades 3-4:
As a class, brainstorm ideas for a device that could help alert people to allergens in food products. Encourage students to interview people they know who have food allergies to get their ideas about how to make the device even better. Regroup so students can share what they learned. Based on that input, have students imagine what the ultimate allergen-detecting device would look like. Give them time to draw a picture of their ideas and write a summary telling how it works.
Grades 5-6:
Divide the class into small groups. Instruct each group to brainstorm ideas for a system that would alert people to allergens in food products. Encourage students to interview people they know who have food allergies to get their ideas about how to make the system even better. Give groups time to create a diagram illustrating their system. Then have them write a brief summary explaining how it works.
Grades 7-8:
Divide the class into pairs. Instruct partners to identify key problems with the current method of identifying allergens in the food products people buy in stores or purchase at restaurants. Then have them brainstorm ideas for a device or system that would more effectively identify allergens in foods. Encourage partners to select one idea, draw a picture or create a prototype and write a brief summary explaining how it works.
Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. Have partners discuss reasons why current methods of identifying food allergens are not completely effective. Then have them brainstorm ideas for a new device that would be a more effective way of identifying allergens in foods. Instruct partners to then brainstorm ideas for a new system that would give people access to this device and further protect them from eating foods they are allergic to. Give students time to create a prototype of their device, draw a diagram illustrating their system and write a brief summary explaining how their device and overall system work together to protect people from food allergens.