Bits-2-Bites: Youth Applying STEM Content and Computational Thinking to Learn about Nutrition and Advocate for Food Justice
Bits-2-Bites is a strategies project that will engage middle school and high school students in learning to apply computational thinking and computer based tools to address STEM related community issues. Participants will learn about the biology and chemistry of food science, nutrition, food production, environmental sustainability, and how they relate to relevant community health issues such as the proliferation of obesity and diabetes. Participants will learn how to apply process skills including design, analysis, and troubleshooting to complete a service learning project based on sustainable agriculture. Initial skill building projects for both middle and high school youth will focus on finding comfort with and interest in computer programming, using programming languages such as Scratch and C++.
The Science Museum of Minnesota's Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center (KAYSC) will develop two 12-member high school crews (grades 9-12) as participants in the project who each will receive 350-400 contact hours of instruction per year by museum staff. In addition, four 12- 15 member volunteer teams composed of 7th and 8th graders at four St. Paul middle schools will use the Bits-2-Bites curriculum units that the high school students use to learn about computing focusing on computational thinking and tools.
The program will take place in three phases: 1)training in basic computer programming and how to apply that knowledge to manipulate basic micro-controllers along with the basics of sustainable agriculture; 2) learning how food they eat can be understood as a complex system, studying school lunches as an example; 3) examine the cultural and dietary habits in their homes developing a picture of community habits and sharing the results with the community through visualizations of the data they have created and presentations to increase the community dialog on patterns of food choices and community access.