Learning Strategy: Data work
Topic: Food & digestion
Bugs make a regular appearance on "I'm a celebrity - get me out of here". They have featured in some stomach-turning Bushtucker Challenges. Celebrities have even been forced to eat them alive. Surprisingly, this would not be such a bad thing. Many insects are high in protein and low in cholesterol. They are a valuable source of nutrients in Australia, Asia and Africa.
There are certainly plenty of them around. Australia is suffering its worst locust plague in years. The insects have been rebranded as 'sky prawns' in an effort to get more people eating them. In this numeracy activity, students devise a nutritionally balanced insect-and-rice menu for a day in the jungle.
Published: 4th January 2005
Reviews & Comments: 54
Students will learn to analyse nutrition data to devise a balanced diet.
Try the activity
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Curriculum link11 - 14 (KS3)
Food and digestion QCA 8a - name the nutrients that are part of a balanced diet; use secondary sources of information to present information on diet
Fit and healthy QCA 9b - the components of a balanced diet; how diet affects health
Running the activity
Starter activity: Ask students if they have ever eaten insects or watched anyone else each them. What nutrients do they think insects are likely to contain?
Main activity: Page 1 sets the scene and describes the task, which is probably best done in small groups. They have to come up with a combination of rice and insects that represents a balanced diet for a day. The page can be projected or printed onto a transparency. Page 2 includes the information needed to do the task. It lists the mass of protein, fat and carbohydrate in different insect species, and in rice. It also specifies how much of each nutrient the celebrity should eat in one day. There are also 'meal ideas from around the world' to help students with the final part of the task, which is to decide how to cook and serve the insects. Page 2 can be projected or photocopied so that each group has a copy of the information they need. It is best if students have plenty of scrap paper available so they can try putting together100g portions of different insects and rice. If computers are available, the data can be put into an Excel spreadsheet to speed up the calculations.
Plenary: ask some groups to share their menus with the class. How did they calculate the amounts of each insect in the 2-day menu? What nutrients are not mentioned, and may well be missing from the insect-and-rice menu? The answer to this is vitamins and minerals, although many insects have a significant iron content.
Science UPD8 is a joint initiative from the Association for Science Education and the Centre for Science Education, Sheffield Hallam University. We are grateful for core support from NESTA and GlaxoSmithKline.
- Insect nutrition
- This site contains detailed nutrition information about different insects, as well as mouth-watering(!) recipes
- Sky Prawns
- Locusts rebranded as sky prawns. A BBC article on an attempt to get Australians to eat away their plague of locusts.
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