Guest Blogger: Middle School Academic Dean Zoe Tuohy on Food Waste

This year students are analyzing more sustainable solutions to food waste in the GSB dining area. When asked why food waste was selected as the issue for this year, Mrs. Schuchman explained:

"Food waste is something that students understand; they see how much food gets thrown out daily, and they are learning about global inequalities related to food access. We talk about food insecurity in class and how raising awareness about food waste here at Gill can help us be more conscious about what we take and what we eat. What I like about this particular project each year is that we can see changes right away in the Middle School after our research is complete. Students feel a greater awareness of environmental issues and the real-life impact of their data collection, analysis, and presentation."

Students have full ownership of the process. Beginning with a brainstorming session over a couple of class periods, Mrs. Schuchman facilitates a conversation about the process of data collection, including how to control for variables such as 'free-seating Fridays' and discrepancies between the number of students at each table. Students are responsible for setting the data table, the method for collection, calculation of averages, and graphing and analysis of the data. Students then create slides to showcase their research and analysis, as well as possible solutions to the food waste issue. Volunteer students will present to Chef Joe, the kitchen staff, and faculty and students to raise more awareness about food waste. 

Over the course of several months, students are highly engaged in a project while learning a plethora of skills. Not only do they practice skills of data collection, graphing, and analysis, but they also enhance their public speaking skills, ability to collaborate, compromise, and communicate. Perhaps most important are the time-management skills they learn as they must retain motivation and stamina throughout an entire school year. Check out the accompanying photos to see data collection in action!

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