Delmarva Christian High School (DCHS) biology teacher Tiffany Haley is stepping out from traditional lectures and transitioning to a project-based teaching style. Currently, her students are studying a unit on prokaryotes, bacterial organisms, so she developed a project naming it, “Food Trucks and Food Poisoning.” As a part of this unit, the students in her biology class worked hard to develop a food truck concept, logo, menu, and a clean-up method that would reduce bacterial contamination.

“Students have a hard time grasping science. The whole premise of project-based learning is making science relatable and easy to discover in their every day lives,” said Haley. “The students came up with the idea of food poisoning, and I decided a food truck would be more exciting than a restaurant.”

In an effort to see first hand how a successful food truck is run, Zoggs and SoDel Concepts brought their food trucks, “The Sea Hogg” and “Big Thunder,” to DCHS. The “Sea Hogg” offered lunch to DCHS students and staff. A tour was given to the biology class followed by a Q&A from both food trucks.

“The food trucks coming to the school was not the main purpose of the unit, but important for the students to see what they were trying to create. Majority of the students used some of the same concepts,” added Haley.

At the start of the prokaryotes unit students were divided into groups and decided on an ethnicity to represent for their own food truck. The students were required to select four different food items and at least one way to prevent food poisoning based on the foods they were offering. The students then had to present to local food and beverage business professionals and Mrs. Haley, and were graded on their logo design, menu, clean-up method, and presentation skills.

Community members played an essential role in this project-based unit. Delmarva Christian Schools (DCS) Director of Development, Justin Savini worked with individuals affiliated with Chick-Fil-A Rehoboth, Patty’s Deli, Bluewater Grill, SoDel Concepts, Marilyn’s Catering, Pickled Pig Pub, and Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Public Health to ensure the students were given exposure to business professionals during their presentations.

Biology teacher Tiffany Haley explained, “Bringing the community in gave the students an opportunity for a more realistic experience, balanced grade, and plenty of feedback they could learn from.”

The project-based unit also gave the students more responsibility in their learning. With this hands-on approach, students came to understand methods used as they conducted mini laboratory projects. Two of the most effective labs were the monitoring of salt intake and effects on their cells, as well as growth of bacteria based on cleaning products and temperature.

“One thing I’ve learned is a chaotic classroom is okay, as long as it’s a productive one,” mentioned Haley.

Delmarva Christian Schools is a non-denominational Christian school, providing an excellent Christian education to students throughout the region. The mission of Delmarva Christian Schools is to proclaim the gospel by preparing students spiritually, academically and physically to know and do God’s will in their lives.

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