Family and Consumer Science

Using all of their senses

Joseph picked up a leafy green clipping, closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. “Dill?”

Alex held a small jar of brown spice and passed it under his nose, opening his eyes wide at cumin’s pungent aroma.

Sophia dipped a carrot into the mixture in her cup, took a bite and smiled.

“What do you taste?” asked teacher Melissa Brady from behind a table set with bunches of fresh herbs, a dozen clippers and small vials of spices.

making decisions based on observation

be willing to experiment

It’s period three in the cooking lab—one of the rotations in Family and Consumer Science, a course offered in sixth and seventh grade. It’s a class in which students learn to make spring rolls and upcycle t-shirts into bags. On a higher level, what the students are really developing through hands-on experiences is a growth mindset. Be willing to experiment. Use all your senses. Embrace failures as learning opportunities. Challenge yourself.

Today, Brady is modeling experimentation, testing and course correction through the creation of customized yogurt-based dips. “I’m traveling on my journey,” she narrates, stirring tahini into yogurt, then tasting it. “I have two flavors. What herb do I want to add?” She cuts a sprig of cilantro into small pieces over her mixture, stirs it and then tastes again.

Following her lead, each student chooses the fresh herbs, citrus, aromatics and seasonings for their own dip, smelling, stirring and tasting after each stop on their journey. Is it too bitter? Salt balances the flavor. Too tangy? Add olive oil.

Part of Unified Arts Curriculum

Family and Consumer Science is part of John Jay Middle School’s Unified Arts curriculum, along with art and technology. All three classes encourage creativity and allow students to make things they are curious about.

For many students, the three classes are a welcome break, full of movement and fun. This spring, sixth graders went to the garden with Family and Consumer Science teacher Laura Woelfel to plant herbs and check on the raspberries they’ll use in their cooking unit.

delicious and nutritious

What went well? What did you learn?

The class always ends with a time of reflection. What would you do differently?

“I’d make it again but leave out the lime,” said one student.

“The herbs made a big difference,” said another. He had added mint, parsley, and cilantro to his base of yogurt and tahini, along with olive oil.

“Mine was tangy, yet sweet and salty,” said Joseph. “It was good with carrots and the texture was amazing! In musical terms, I’d say it was a tasty hip-hop!"