Whether you're interested in extruded snack foods or Star Trek, you will find something about it on the Internet. Using the Internet for food technology brings the industrial world into the classroom, enabling you to explore manufacturing processes and communicate with interested parties around the globe.
Teachers can tap into an almost inexhaustible source of information, which can be downloaded on to a word-processing document for posters, worksheets and presentations.
The Net can also be used to carry out initial research for product development; to communicate by e-mail; and to exchange ideas and information through user groups.
Unleash the power of the Internet at the start of a design and make assignment, for example, and you can research flavours of food products, processing techniques or procedures, food consumption data or general company information. If you do not have the facilities to enable all pupils to do this, a few could be given access and report back on their findings to the whole class.
As the information displayed on the screen can be downloaded and used in other forms, however, there is the temptation of "cut and paste" homework. It is therefore important that the data obtained is used only as reference material that can be incorporated into investigation work to support findings or to further pupils' design work concepts and ideas.
For example, photographs of industrial practices, which may not be available in textbooks, can be found easily on the World Wide Web. These could be used to show the principles of large-scale production of food products; pupils could then emulate the concepts in their practical project work.
Another example would be an investigation of the principles of biotechnology in the food industry. The Web site www.foodfuture.co.uk gives clear information on the types of products that are manufactured using traditional methods of biotechnology, such as yoghurt and cheese. These could be made in the classroom, with consideration of the scientific principles involved. The site also looks at the growing area of modern biotechnology and genetic modification.
As the Internet grows, finding the relevant information that you or your pupils require can be difficult. Simply browsing through the Web, hoping to stumble on a relevant site, is one approach. However, using a search engine is much quicker. A search engine is a tool which scans the Internet for sites that relate to a keyword you enter. This key word (or number of key words) can be anything you wish, such as "nutrition", "process control" or "fortification". The engine then reports back with a list of sites which match the keyword.
Some food Web sites have a recipe search facility. The parameters may be nutritional (low-fat); cultural (Indian or Chinese); or dish type (main meal or dessert). Two examples are www.kelloggs.com and www.sainsburys.co.uk.
E-mail means documents containing text, photographs, music, animation or film can be sent around the world in the blink of an eye. One Year 11 pupil, at a school near Coventry, used the Internet to research and present information on modified starch in a variety of food products. The Internet provided the technical information, and led to links between the school and a food technologist in the US.
The Net also has a CB-radio style function, called user groups or forums, where you can hold "conversations" (that is, type messages) with people from all over the globe.
Browsing through the Internet can be addictive and rewarding. The Net is packed with information that would be useful for GCSE and GNVQ coursework. When used and applied appropriately it can expand horizons and open up new avenues of exploration. It can stimulate the area of research and enhance and support ICT skills, while offering those with expertise a springboard to develop their technological literacy.
Roy Ballam is education liaison officer for the British Nutrition Foundation. E-mail him on: british_ email@example.com
FOOD SITES ON THE WEB
http:www.infinity.cafoodinfoburnaby (Cook-chillhaccpcontrol) http:www.Shift.comshiftsponsorsMVickie (Crisp products) http:www.padutch.comhtmlbicklesbickleshtml (Photographs of crisp production)
http:vm.csfan.fda.gov (US Food and Drug Administration)
(International Food Information Council)
(Household consumption data)
http:www.acs.orgacsgendivs division (American Chemical
(Institute of Food Science amp;
http:www.fao.org - UN Food and Agriculture organisation
http:www.yahoo.co.uk HotBot http:www.hotbot.com