How does a sous vide machine work? What makes or breaks the flavour of a dish?
These are some of the things which students learn in Junyuan Secondary School’s Applied Learning Programme (ALP) in food science.
The objective of the programme is to equip students with culinary and problem-solving skills, which they can also apply in the real world.
Students also learn how ingredients and components in food items can affect their taste and texture. This knowledge can be applied to the various experiments they conduct using ingredients.
They would also develop ideas in creating or improving kitchen tools to make them safer or more convenient for the elderly or people with disabilities.
For students, the most exciting part of the programme would be at the end of the semester, where they take part in a cohort-wide “cook-off”, pitting their culinary skills against one another, and getting quizzed on scientific concepts behind their creations.
In addition, Secondary 3 students would learn the ropes of running a food establishment, as they take turns to operate the school cafe. Some of them would also get to attend a basic barista course, and put the coffee preparation skills they learn into practice during their week-long stint at the cafe.
Lessons on values and life skills
Besides gaining culinary skills and knowledge on food science and the food industry, the programme allows students to pick up values and skills that they would need at any stage in life.
“Students pick up analytical skills through their investigations in class, and this equips them with better critical thinking skills and scientific literacy,” says Mr Seah Cheng Hong, who oversees the programme. “Students also hone their communication skills through interacting with their peers as they work together in their food preparation, sharing sessions and problem-solving discussions.”
The programme has got some students interested in food preparation processes and scientific concepts outside of the classroom.
“The barista course enabled me to learn skills that I can use even in future,” shares Secondary 3 student Eugene Hoo.