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Monday Morning Ready05.02.2019
Jumpstart Your Week!

Someday soon an emoji might literally save lives. Hiroyuki Komatsu, a Google engineer, submitted a proposal to add a range of new icons to the standard emoji library that could help those with food allergies understand what they are eating anywhere in the world.... < read more >
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Grade 3-4

Do you think emojis are a good way to identify food allergens on food packaging? Why or why not?

Grade 5-6

Think of a common food allergen. Draw an emoji to represent it. Why do you think your idea is the best emoji to symbolize this food allergen?

Grade 7-8

What emojis or icons have you already seen that represent ingredients or characteristics of foods in restaurants or on food packaging?

Grade 9-10

In the article, Google engineer Hiroyuki Komatsu is calling for packagers and restaurants to use emojis to represent the most common food allergens in their products. Do you think less common food allergens should be represented as well? Why or why not?

LESSON PLAN
Create a Food Allergen Alert Device or System

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.
SMITHSONIAN RESOURCES
How Common Are Food Allergies?
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about the study that revealed that roughly 3.6 percent of Americans have at least one food allergy or intolerance.

A Lot of American Adults Have Food Allergies—and a Lot Mistakenly Think They Do
A new study found that 19 percent of adults believe they have a food allergy, but only 10 percent have symptoms consistent with the condition. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn more.

Allergies Can Be So Specific That a Person Can React to an Egg’s Yolk but Not Its Whites
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about more ways food allergies can be quite specific.

Teen Inventor Designs Noninvasive Allergy Screen Using Genetics and Machine Learning
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn about the simple test created by 17-year-old Ayush Alag, one of 40 finalists in this year’s Regeneron Science Talent Search.

Test Your Restaurant Meal for Allergens in Two Minutes
Nima, a handheld food analyzer, can test for gluten on the spot. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how it works.

23 Kids’ Peanut Allergies Were Cured, At Least Temporarily
Read this Smithsonian magazine to learn about a probiotic that may be the key to fighting allergies to peanut proteins.

How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution
Over time, diet causes dramatic changes to our anatomy, immune systems and maybe skin color. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how.

Signs of Food Allergies Might Be in Newborns’ Blood
Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn why researchers think overactive immune cells could prime the immune system to attack normally harmless molecules found in food.

These Temporary Tattoos Can Help ID a Food Allergy
Traveling to a different country offers the chance to experience new things and taste the local cuisine. Yet there’s always the slight chance that new foods could come with new problems. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how tattoos inspired by historical Japanese prints can help.
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