Friday, February 17, 2017

Weekly overview - week of February 13

As far as our food project is concerned, we focused on independent work this week; specifically, the process of refining individual and paired science projects. Students have designed their own research questions and are now developing procedures that they will use to test their hypotheses. They will share their findings during presentations the week of March 20.

On Monday, we welcomed Michelle Rabaut and Katie Kennedy, two University of Michigan students (who are also part of the SK camps and Extended Learning team), to our class. Michelle and Katie are sociology students who have both spent time working, learning, and living in Detroit (as part of UM’s Semester in Detroit program and, more specifically, through Michelle’s thesis research at the Oakland Avenue Urban Farm). They led us through fascinating conversations about food justice, including the concepts of food security/insecurity, food deserts, and the way that food can be used as a tool for social change. After they left, we continued to work through the concept of “gentrification” and the ways in which an influx of resources from outside the community can be both beneficial and detrimental to the community itself.

Huge, huge thanks to Michelle and Katie for coming to share their experiences with us and challenge us to think deeply about complex issues.

We’ve also been busy planning for our “Serve a Good Cause” fundraising dinner for Freedom House (a center for refugees from all over the world that provides shelter, services, and support as people work toward legal asylum status and get settled on their own) on February 28 from 6-7pm at Project23 in Ypsilanti. The 7-8s will be cooking and serving soup, salad, and bread from 6-7pm and the proceeds benefit Freedom House, the only organization of its kind in the United States. If you’d like to join us for this event and you have not yet purchased tickets, please email Rachel by February 24.

Weekly overview - week of February 6

This week, we started planning for our big “Serve Up a Cause” event on February 28. The 7-8s will be hosting a fundraising dinner for Freedom House, a Detroit-based center (the only one of its kind in the country) that provides transitional housing and a wide range of services for refugees seeking asylum. The dinner is from 6-7pm on 2/28. Students will be cooking and serving the dinner themselves. Tickets are $10 and will be on sale before and after school from Monday, February 13, through Friday, February 17. Right now, students are working on event promotion, ticket spreadsheets, sales schedules, and welcome-speech writing.

Earlier this week, we visited Maiz Cantina in Ypsilanti to see the “Wall of Stories” that the employees and managers built as a way of bringing people together through art and storytelling. We met with Beatriz Vargas, the general manager, who shared her own story and the story of the wall itself. We left thinking about both the way that restaurants can serve as places that bring people together and, more broadly, about the way that communities are strengthened by the sharing of stories.

Huge, huge thanks to Beatriz for hosting us and sharing her story and to Maiz for supporting community art.

This week was also cake week. Students divided themselves into groups for a cake baking contest (using recipes with a story, which they researched). On Thursday, they baked for most of the day and then showed off their creations to the 5-6s, who came to judge the cakes based on taste, appearance, and “interesting-ness.” The four cakes (a caramel cake from 1901; a Mardi Gras king cake; an English Victoria sponge cake; and a molten lava cake) were all delicious (of course). We had a little bit of fun baking, too.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Weekly overview - week of January 30; photos of our examination of materials from the culinary archive at UM

At the beginning of this week, we examined the text of Trump’s executive order on immigration. Using guiding questions, students analyzed the text and commentary to try to understand it from a policy perspective (its stated aims and methods) and from a historical perspective (putting it in the context of past immigration policies and laws). Students’ questions were thoughtful, pointed, and demonstrated deep critical thinking skills.

Students also continued to develop their independent research papers and science experiments. Student-developed inquiries range in topic but all fall under the driving question of how we decide what to eat. 

As part of our continued study of food, we took a trip to the Janice Bluestein Longone Culinary Archive at UM in order to examine historically-significant cookbooks, menus, and ephemera. This trip, in addition to being interesting (particularly the World War II-era food advertisements, ration coupons, and “victory” cookbooks) helped us to continue to think about that which we can learn about people during a particular place and time through their food choices. Huge, huge, huge thanks to Liz and Juli from Special Collections at UM Library for putting together such a fascinating presentation and collecting such interesting materials for us to examine.