Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Typical Friday Afternoon

Although I'm posting about our science/food lesson from Friday, I'm not going to begin to pretend that whatever happened, however it went, matters in the grandest of all schemes. Hopefully it was fun, hopefully kids learned something. And if it wasn't, and they didn't -- at least they all safely left the classroom at 3PM the same as on any other day. 

I can't even begin to write about a very different Friday afternoon in a school in Connecticut. There aren't words.

Instead I'm plugging away, recording the lesson du jour. 

Feeling very fortunate. And very sad.


Often a food lesson will begin with us reading as a class about an ingredient we're about to cook with. Friday I went to the math place instead. I gave kids a worksheet that had some basic info:
  • A 12 oz. can of soda has about 150 calories.
  • A 16 oz. bottle of soda has about 250 calories.
  • If you take in 3,500 extra calories beyond what your body needs, you gain a pound.
  • If you take in 3,500 extra calories less than what your body needs, you lose a pound. 
I answered a few questions and had kids do the math. Answers at the bottom of the post, in case you're inclined to do the math yourself.

How many calories do you take in over the course of a month if you drink a can of soda a day?
How many pounds does that equate to?
How many calories do you take in over the course of a year if you drink a can of soda a day?
How many pounds does that equate to?
Find the same answers if you drink a bottle of soda every day.

Kids toiled willingly over the multiplication and division. (I let fifth graders use calculators on the long division, which they will master in January.) I wish I had helped them set up the equations before starting, because some of them were disappointingly not so clear on which numbers and operations to use. Even though word problems are a part of our math program, I think it threw them for a loop to encounter math outside of that chunk of the day. Which makes me think that maybe I should do things like this more often...

We shared results and discussed the final question on the worksheet I'd given them: 
Why do you think it could be a problem if too many of your calories each day are from sodas instead of from other foods/drinks?
While some of them commented that they hadn't known about the caloric content of soda, most quickly recognized that drinking sugary beverages could cause them to gain weight, putting a strain on their hearts. Some also mentioned they might not eat as many healthy foods if they filled up on sodas. I introduced the term "empty calorie." I also emphasized that their bodies are growing and changing and that they are expected to gain weight as they grow. The purpose for calling attention to the calories in soda is to raise awareness of what they may be putting into their bodies and to set them up with some healthier habits now, habits that will serve them well throughout their lives.

On the back of their worksheet were two recipes for juice spritzers, both out of ChopChop magazine. One was 3/4 c. bubbly water mixed with 1/4 cup of juice, a 30 calorie drink. The other was a full cup of bubbly water mixed with a splash of lemon juice and half a teaspoon of maple syrup (10 calories). The original recipe called for honey, but I substituted honey because a) all of my honey at home is crystallized and I was too lazy to deal with it Thursday night, and b) both honey and maple syrup are expensive to buy, buy many of my students have syrup in their homes because they have family members who produce it each spring.

Kids had a fun time choosing from three flavors of bubbly water, orange juice, cranberry juice. Some added lemon juice to the first recipe. Some sampled the bubbly water plain and liked it. Almost everyone had an idea for how to play with the recipes at home. I reminded them that if they increased the juice content, the calories would go up, but still be lower than the average soda. 

Are sodas okay once in a while? Sure. Just like french fries. But as an everyday habit, it's worth thinking twice.

We cleaned up the room and I sent them out the door, not yet aware of how lucky we were to have had a typical Friday afternoon together.

                                                 Answer Key

one 12 oz. can of soda per day                    one 16 oz. bottle of soda per day
4,500 calories per month                                7500 calories per month
1.3 pounds per month                                     2.1 pounds per month
 54,000 calories per year                                  90,000 calories per year
15.4 pounds per year                                      25.7 pounds per year

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