students on the sofa

Where Does My Food Come From?

”Where Does My Food Come From?” Big Studies Summer Term Project for Kahlo and Madiba Classes

The summer term kicked off with a unique twist for the Kahlo and Madiba classes. Today, lunch wasn’t just a meal—it was the beginning of a global adventure. Pupils emerged from their classrooms a few minutes early to set up the piazza for lunch. Watching them wheel out the enormous folding tables and benches with such independence and responsibility was impressive.

The oval space at the heart of the school buzzed with excitement and curiosity. The Year 4, 5, and 6 pupils from Kahlo and Madiba classes were in for a treat: a specially prepared vegetarian ‘Buddha bowl’ lunch. The lunch trollies overflowed with an array of colourful produce. There were boiled eggs, edamame beans, hummus, cheese, bean sprouts, grated cabbage, carrot, peppers, noodles, rice, and pink beetroot wraps and more. Toppings ranged from chilli sauce for the daring to yoghurt dressing for those preferring a cooler taste.

As they assembled their bowls, the pupils eagerly embraced the school’s ‘try something new’ initiative. The piazza was alive with chatter about the different flavours. Even the most cautious eaters ventured out of their comfort zones to sample something new.

Once their appetites were satiated, their tummies full, the tables were pushed aside. Teachers Michelle and Ellie revealed the term’s ‘Big Studies’ project. They presented a platter of exotic foods alongside a giant world map on the floor, introducing the broad topic: “Where Does My Food Come From?”

In mixed-year groups of four, the pupils were tasked with identifying the foods, figuring out where they came from, and locating those places on the map. This hands-on activity encouraged them to explore the journey of food from farm to table.

Although they started together, over the weeks, the two classes soon took different paths. This first step served as an immersive provocation for a project spanning the summer term, culminating in a presentation at the end-of-year business fair. The broad topic, combined with a project-based learning approach, allowed the pupils to delve into global food systems, geography, and food ethics.

As lunch spilled out into the playground, the students were abuzz with excitement. Their minds raced with new ideas about where their food came from and the many topics they could explore.

Six weeks later, the classes had each gone in unique directions. Madiba’s Year 6 pupils focused on food miles and the impact of the global vs. local food market. Meanwhile, Kahlo’s Years 4 and 5 were captivated by the ethics of farming and food production. These two approaches complemented each other, giving the pupils a rich understanding of complex topics that would challenge many adults.

The pupils started by mapping out their initial knowledge of the world using blank maps. Independently noting what they knew about global geography, they then expanded their understanding collaboratively. They learned to use atlases and memorised a continent song to grasp the global geographical scale. This set the stage for Madiba’s deep dive into food miles and locally sourced produce.

Gathering facts, they discovered the differences between locally grown food and imported goods. They debated the feasibility of growing various foods locally, discussed the environmental impact of commercial farming versus small-scale local farming, and explored the ethical dilemmas of choosing between local and imported food.

Kahlo’s students examined seasonality, exploring how our eating habits have changed with the availability of imported foods. They also linked their IT skills to the project, using speech-to-text and immersive readers for research. This tool, which Atelier 21 is trialing, makes websites more accessible, allowing all students to gather extensive notes and contribute significantly.

Reaching a pivotal moment, the pupils delved into micro vertical farming as a solution to reduce food miles and promote local growth. Fascinated by this innovation, they conducted in-depth research on urban farming techniques. This inspired them and showed how technology can integrate with sustainable farming practices.

Exploring the differences between commercial and home-scale farming and comparing large-scale operations to home gardening sparked passionate discussions about environmental and economic impacts. The pupils went on to examine the carbon footprint of food production, the energy consumption of greenhouses, and the broader implications for climate change.

Discussions often turned to the importance of supporting local farmers and the global perspective of prioritising local produce over helping farmers in poorer countries. These conversations highlighted the importance of informed food choices and their impacts.

As the project moves into the final half term, some pupils have begun working on a trifold leaflet for the business fair while others prepare food based businesses in the context of what they have learnt. The leaflet aims to raise awareness about food origins, the importance of supporting local farmers, and the impact of food choices on the environment and economy. The pupils are designing sections on food miles, seasonality, and the benefits of vertical farming, planning to include infographics and persuasive texts.

The project emphasises the importance and development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Pupils are learning to analyse complex issues, weigh different perspectives, and make decisions based on research. This process fostered a deeper awareness of global food systems and personal impact while developing skills they will use for a lifetime.

The “Where Does My Food Come From?” project not only enriches students’ academic skills but also instilled a sense of responsibility and agency. They understand that their food choices have far-reaching consequences and that they can contribute to a more sustainable food system.

As the project moves into its final weeks, the pupils are reflecting on their journey and the broader implications of their findings. They recognise the complexity of food ethics and the importance of making informed choices. Transitioning from learning mode to presentation mode, they are deepening their knowledge and becoming aware of how to have significant impact and to influence others through effective communication.

The project exemplifies Atelier 21’s commitment to holistic, hands-on learning and preparing students for thoughtful, responsible futures. It showcases the power of inquiry led, project-based learning to engage pupils in meaningful issues and develop life skills beyond the classroom.

The collaborative efforts of Kahlo and Madiba classes, guided by teachers Michelle and Ellie, demonstrate the transformative potential of curiosity-driven education. As anticipation for the business fair grows, the pupils are eager to share their insights with the community and advocate for sustainable food choices. This project will undoubtedly leave a lasting impact, empowering them to tackle more complex global challenges in the future.

300 Word Summary

The summer term for Kahlo and Madiba classes at Atelier 21 began with an exciting project titled “Where Does My Food Come From?”. The term kicked off with an immersive provocation for the senses introducing pupils to a vegetarian ‘Buddha bowl’ lunch, with diverse foods setting the stage for their learning journey. The project, designed by teachers Michelle and Ellie, involved Year 4, 5, and 6 pupils exploring global food systems, geography, and food ethics through hands-on activities.

Pupils started by identifying foods, determining their origins, and mapping them globally. Over the first six weeks, Madiba’s Year 6 focused on food miles and the impact of local versus global food markets, while Kahlo’s Years 4 and 5 delved into food ethics and sustainable farming practices. They used blank world maps to document their initial knowledge and expanded it through collaborative atlas work, learning geographical skills and concepts.

Research led pupils to compare locally grown foods with imports, discuss commercial versus small-scale farming, and explore seasonality. They engaged with IT tools like speech-to-text and immersive readers for accessible research. A pivotal part of their study involved investigating micro vertical farming, which highlighted innovative urban agriculture methods and their benefits.

As the project progressed, pupils debated the environmental and economic impacts of different farming practices, considering the carbon footprint and ethical dilemmas of food choices. They also explored the importance of supporting local farmers versus global economies.

The term will culminate in the end-of-year business fair, where pupils will present their findings through trifold leaflets and food-based projects. The project emphasises critical thinking, problem-solving, and the importance of informed food choices, reflecting Atelier 21’s commitment to holistic, hands-on education. The collaborative efforts of Kahlo and Madiba classes showcase the transformative potential of curiosity-driven, project-based learning, preparing students for thoughtful, responsible futures.