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Bushtucker challenge

  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
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: 55

Learning objectives

Students will learn to analyse nutrition data to devise a balanced diet.

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

11 - 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.

News links

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.

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Sep 23rd, 2015

5 Star

Won't download -seen it used very effectively so very frustrating!

Reviewer: Kendall Kinrade


Jun 22nd, 2015

5 Star

using this as the basis of some summer school lesson for yr6s - really got me thinking and very useful

Reviewer: Brenda Doyle

This still won't download!

Mar 5th, 2014

1 Star

The link has been checked - please make sure you are logged in before trying to download. Ed.

Reviewer: John Lyden

Can't download it!

Oct 3rd, 2013

1 Star

It's a very nice activity, I started it earlier today at school, but our cover teacher asked us to finish it and I can't download the pdf!!

I think the pdf link is broken.

Reviewer: cori coral

Great activity!

Apr 21st, 2012

5 Star

Used this as part of a level 3 physiology lesson on digestion which I was being observed in - great activity and really got the student thinking! Got outstanding too - bonus!

Reviewer: Daphne Hedley-George


Oct 26th, 2011

5 Star

fantastic activity for VAK

Reviewer: prishilla nalliah

bush tucker

Jan 22nd, 2011

5 Star

great activity, we bought some edible insects to go with this, pupils loved it

Reviewer: Duncan Allard

becoming an old fav

May 20th, 2010

5 Star

I absolutely love this activity for all ages and abilities. have used this year after year. worth a go

Reviewer: Heather taylor

bush tucker challenge

May 11th, 2010

4 Star

students just loved the challenge

Reviewer: Gail Hili

Bushtucker challenge review

Jan 21st, 2010

5 Star

Easy to use and the kids enjoyed it. Used this with a top set year 9, was quick and a good start to 'balanced diets'

Reviewer: Rebecca Glover

science - nutrition

Nov 25th, 2009

5 Star

excellent activity especially with I'm a celebrity on tv. A fun starter to food types

Reviewer: david chapman

Year 8 high ability

Sep 17th, 2009

3 Star

The tasks requires a high level of maths skill, however my group really loved the concept and battled on to produce the balanced diet. Those that finished before the others could then write out the menu and discuss cooking methods. I used the students who found the task easy to help others in the class. Overall a success.

Reviewer: Georgina Motterham

Year 8's - NZ

Jul 19th, 2009

5 Star

I carried this activity out with two sets of Year 8's - one higher and one lower ability. Firstly, I showed them a snippet from the TV programme, then introduced the activity [just as we started in earnest talking about the possible 'bugs' one could eat - I took out some locusts that I'd cooked earlier - the only shame was I couldn't allow the pupils try them out]. We then prepared menus for a Bush Tucker restuarant that used the bugs in the recipes - the idea the dishes being sold had to provide a balanced diet for the diners. Worked well with both sets - if anything better with the lower ability.

Reviewer: Paul M

Bushtucker challenge review

Jun 5th, 2009

3 Star

This activity was good for the more able year 9s. They understood what was expected of the task using the instructions. My year 8s struggled with the concept of devising a meal & had trouble with the calculation aspect.
I would like to have seen some notes on differentiation for teachers. Overall, my students enjoyed the challenge.

Reviewer: Debbie Williamson

Nutrition and Health

Apr 26th, 2009

3 Star

The activity sparked the students interest but the maths and the problemsolving skills of the class were too weak to complete it effectively.

Reviewer: Lizzie Watts

Bushtucker challenge review

Mar 10th, 2009

4 Star

Worked really well with higher sets.
Idea worked well with lower ability pupils but they needed a lot of support with the maths.

Reviewer: Frances Morgan


Feb 5th, 2009

5 Star

We used this activity as a homework with a group of year 9 pupils. They really embraced the activity and we got some very inventive menus, comeplete with pictures and tissue paper leaves etc!

Thanks upd8!

Reviewer: angela parry


Jan 31st, 2009

5 Star

The activity is engaging, stimulating and challenging for children. it will help them increase their knowledge and understanding of the aspect of a balance diet and develop their critical thinking and decission making skills.

Reviewer: Salma Awath

Balanced diet

Dec 17th, 2008

3 Star

Excellent context as always, beyond set one the kids in year 8 find it hard to get the idea that the nutrients are per 100g and don't quite grasp how to "scale up".

Reviewer: Andrew Fenton


Dec 3rd, 2008

5 Star

This lesson is wonderful, it really gets the students involved and makes them think about the topic.

They found it fun and enjoyed taking part in the lesson.

Reviewer: Sarah-Jane Bigby

kS3 Biology

Oct 14th, 2008

4 Star

Works very well with new KS3 especially if you incorporate a couple of 'You Tube' clips in the lesson from the programme itself.

Reviewer: chioma neville

Year 8 Food & Digestion

Oct 5th, 2008

4 Star

I left this activity for a cover lesson
The cover assistant thought it was a lovely lesson idea and was greatfull for something different!!
The students responded to it very well and it linked nicely with the unit.
Thank you

Reviewer: Emma-Jane Bradbury

recent news

Oct 5th, 2008

4 Star

just seen an article in the Japan Times 'Bug Cuisine not for the faint hearted', good link to his blog for lots of pictures of food containing bugs

Reviewer: rachael tomkins

Food and Digestion

Sep 29th, 2008

4 Star

Engaging for a low abilty set who enjoyed preparing the menus. Students required help with the maths.

Reviewer: Steven Davies

8A Digestion

Sep 9th, 2008

4 Star

Very good idea for a resource as students could relate to the topic.
Can be differentiated by low ability students designing a meal up to higher ability giving amounts of protein / carbs and fats in grams and comparing to RDA's.
Best used when programme is on.

Reviewer: James Mitchell

Bushtucker challenge review

Jul 9th, 2008

4 Star

I did this lesson with my year 7, the calculation of the food groups were very challenging but they perservered and were successful in the end. I have to say the chart was a bit vague. Maybe an example of the working out would be great?

Reviewer: Clare Mariner

bushtucker challenge

Jun 22nd, 2008

5 Star

This was a great activity and fully engaged a year 8 top set. It was a timely activity as, 'I'm a celebrity......get me out of here was on at the time.' Great fun.

Reviewer: nicola randall

Bushtucker Challenge

Jun 12th, 2008

5 Star

This is a really good resource, especially if run at the same time as 'I'm a celebrity...' I have used it with all abilities at KS3. Got some cracking menus!

Reviewer: Susan Benson

Bushtucker Challenge

Jun 11th, 2008

5 Star

A fantastic activity for Year 8, they enjoy making menus, but lower ability groups struggle with the calculations for RDA for the main food types.

Reviewer: Gillian Whitmell

Bushtucker Challenge

Jul 4th, 2007

4 Star

Great activity! The pupils enjoyed the activity but needed some help with the maths, but I had taken on board a previuos reviwers' comment and provided my lower ability group with a table to help them complete the task and it worked very well.

Thanks UPD8!!

C Richardson

Reviewer: Claire Richardson

Bushtucker challenge review

May 14th, 2007

5 Star

I used this successfully with my high ability year 8 group. I made the rookie mistake (as did some of the other teachers I have spoken to) of not doing the activity myself first - I am lucky in that my group are very numerate and worked well with the task. On the whole they loved it and produced everything from grasshopper in a lemon butter (ensure to kill the grasshoppers first or frying may prove hazardous) to honey pot ant soup. They really loved it! I found a cookie recipe which contains locusts on the link to this site which contains info on Mg and Ca which was a perfect extension (some of my class are going to make the cookies!).

Reviewer: Michelle Oldham


May 3rd, 2007

5 Star

My year 10s enjoyed this as a plenary during work on healthy eating but my year 9s struggled with the Maths

Reviewer: Maggie Ward

Used this for Xmas "Learning Skills for Science"

Dec 23rd, 2006

5 Star

Slightly adapted worksheet so students had to design Xmas menu - engaged most of Year 10 - no mean feat on last lessons before Xmas. Would adapt acivity further if runnning again with groups who found Maths hard.
in context of Literacy Skills zfor Science -activity allowed students to appreciate the need to extract and make decisions on data - and the need foraccuracy - some saw relevance in other fields such as sports nutrition or control of diet for medical purposes. Love the idea of choccie insects for prizes suggested by another reviewer. Will definitely do again.

Reviewer: l brook

Bush Tucker Trial

Nov 20th, 2006

5 Star

Remember to use this again this time of year !

Reviewer: toni brodie

bush tucker

Nov 10th, 2006

4 Star

I used this activity yesterday in a yr 9 lesson and they all really enjoyed it. They found it quite challenging especially when doing the carbohydrate levels. Some groups came up with some excellent ideas and brilliant recipe ideas and names.

Reviewer: rachael dilcock

mmm....witchetty grubs

Sep 23rd, 2006

5 Star

Excellent activity that helped my Y8 pupils to appreciate that diets from other parts of the world are not as wacky as they might seem and allowed them to understand that a diet shouls aim to meet certain requirements for the major constituents of food.


Healthy Eating

Sep 7th, 2006

5 Star

Used this following a discussion with a middle Y8 set. Discussion focused on the issue of the canteen's new healthy eating menu. I suggested we adopt the menus in this activity!

Class were then just given the basic information and asked to number crunch - whole activity probably took about half an hour, during which they all stayed on task. It showed how difficult it actually is to get the amounts of each correct and that the only way to ensure that they get a proper balanced meal in the few minutes they're allowed to choose their food in the canteen, is not to give them a choice at all!

Reviewer: Graham Perrin

Bushtucker Trial and Bug Club

Jul 7th, 2006

5 Star

I run a Bug Club with a group of year 6 pupils at Spinfield school and am always on the lookout for ideas. The Bushtucker trial provided a springboard for a term of fun. We looked at edible insects around the World, found recipes and created a fantastic display in the entrance hall. We decided against cooking Samson, our favourite Giant LAnd Snail however!

Reviewer: Christina Stiddard

tasty treats

Jun 16th, 2006

4 Star

I tried this with 2 groups The more able group were able to cope with the maths well the other group struggled. The group which produced the best presentation were given bugs for prizes. There is a good selection of edible bugs at selfridges. Barbacue mealy worms, Smoky bacon locusts, chocolate covered ants etc. The students remember the lesson well!

Reviewer: emma sanford

bustucker challenge...

Jun 4th, 2006

5 Star

The pupils loved this lesson. As it relates to the TV programme they all watch ( but really they should be in bed !!), it gave them a new way of dealing with science. A fun and interactive way..

Reviewer: mahendra chauhan

Real-life Bush Tucker!

May 21st, 2006

4 Star

I used this activity for a one off post-SATS lesson with my SEN Y9 group. I gave them a table to fill in with columns for each meal and the total protein, fat and carbs for that meal. I was amazed that this low ability group managed so well with the maths! I also observed it with a top set Y9 who did some good team working.

As a starter, I'd ordered some real bugs from - some cheese worms and salt and vinegar crickets and they loved them!! I need to go back for more...

Reviewer: Jane Taylor

Bushtucker challenge review

Jan 27th, 2006

4 Star

I tried this as a starter with two groups of year 8
One of these was a second to bottom set who have difficulty in concentrating and again with a middle set year 8. The activity engaged the pupils well as it was culturally releveant and something different (with a definate 'yuck' factor).
However, for the lower ability group the maths was a little bit difficult to make as a starter activity (but after reading a review I may try placing it in an excel spreadheet activity). I would definately recommend this to 'spice' up a lesson to introduce a balanced diet.

Reviewer: Alexandra Edwards

Bushtucker Challenge

Jan 16th, 2006

5 Star

This activity was really good. The students enjoyed the activity as the programme had just finished. Some of the students found the maths a little difficult but with the aid of a spreadsheet they were able to complete the tasks. This is one activity that will be used again and again.

Reviewer: Paul McCrossan

Bush Tucker January 9th 2006

Jan 9th, 2006

4 Star

A stimulating way for year 8 to access diets.
I was concened of the "Yeuk!!!" causing squeals and drama queen performance but I shouldn't have worried as most of the children have already tried escargots, chocolate ants and other esoteric morsels!


Bush tucker

Dec 18th, 2005

4 Star

An execellent numeracy activity and the context was interesting. All my lower set produced a poster with their ideal bush tucker diet. Reinforced balanced diet very well. Had to give the group a starting point of at least 1000g of rice and a calculator, then they were away. Thanks.

Reviewer: Deborah Bradley

bushtucker challenge

Nov 29th, 2005

5 Star

Thanks for Damon's comment about Traditional Australian Aborigonals - I'll get this changed.

It's always good to know when we get things like this wrong!

Philippa (editorial team)

Reviewer: philippa Hulme

Choice of words

Nov 3rd, 2005

4 Star

Great activity. There are a few cultural sensitivities here in Australia with terms for Indigenous Australians. The consensus here is that "Traditional Australian Aboriginals enjoyed" would be of better use than "Australian aborigines enjoy", especially considering most Indigenous Australians now live in cities and would rarely, if ever, eat witchetty (bardi) grubs.

Reviewer: Damon Angelatos

great for keeping easily distracted children on task

Oct 28th, 2005

5 Star

I tried this with a rowdy year 8 class who usually needed at lot of chasing to keep them on task rather than chatting non stop! The yuck factor and the link to the TV programme meant they were much more motivated than usual and their chatting was actually about the topic they were doing. They produced some fantastic work at the end. thanks!

Reviewer: Elizabeth Bowler

Bushtucker Challenge

Jun 5th, 2005

5 Star

I really liked this activity - it engaged even the least motivated pupils. Gave them a chance to put use some challenging science (and maths) in this everyday context.
Like the idea about the spreadsheet - and it is an excellent way to produce display materials.

Reviewer: Sarah Jagger

Bushtucker challenge

Apr 26th, 2005

4 Star

The Students thoroughly enjoyed this activity. I used it as an introduction to healthy eating. The students enjoyed creating a menu but also what it entailed i.e. calculating the mass of the food, making sure that all the dietary requirements were met. They also found it informative as to the foods people from different countries ate.


Reviewer: bally sandhu

Sarah Ewers

Apr 26th, 2005

5 Star

My year 10s throughly enjoyed this as an plenary - they left the room for lunch discussing it as they went!

Reviewer: Sarah Ewers

Bushtucker challenge

Mar 30th, 2005

5 Star

Realy captured the imagination of the class! following the advice of a colleague, I set up a table for the students to fill in, including the correct amounts of rice - to make the number crunching a bit easier. Worked well - I will use this again, and make sure i get some good display work next time!!

Reviewer: Jennifer Wallington

bush tucker

Feb 15th, 2005

5 Star

brilliant introduction to food and digestion used with a year 8 class. the students did this class as homework and designed a menu. the pictures and menus made great classroom decorations.

the students also liked reading about other cultures foods and recipies.

Reviewer: helen waters

Good for numeracy, citizenship, ofsted...

Jan 31st, 2005

5 Star

So, Ofsted cometh. Quick let's do some display work with my mixed ability Y8 group. Hoorah! Doing 8A, which has the need for balanced diet on it. Use Bushtucker! Start the students off with 1000g rice. They bounce around with calculators, get some recipes, produce a menu for their homework, I make the display, they produce some amazing and fab work, and we're all happy.

Better still, because of the multicultural recipes at the bottom of the sheet, our citizenship coordinator says 'fab', so the kids have not only done 'science', but also part of 'citizenship' as well.

Thanks upd8!!

Graham Hartland

Reviewer: Graham Hartlande

A good one to do in the IT suite

Jan 18th, 2005

5 Star

I used this, with a very numerate group of students, to kick off module 8A. The first time I tried it we got through masses of scrap paper. It takes quite a bit of juggling to meet the dietary requirements and get a juicy selection of bugs on the menu. With the second class, I put the insect and rice data into an Excel spreadsheet that students could open from the intranet. Then they just had to type in the number of portions they wanted of each to get the total protein, fat and carbohydrate to appear. That made the activity quicker and more satisfying. It was easier to come up with the nastiest possible menu that fitted the nutritional requirements. As part of their IT curriculum, our year 8 students have to learn to use Excel's 'Goal Seek' facilities. I haven't tried this myself but the activity would probably lend itself.

Reviewer: Pam Large