5 Exciting Ways to Teach About Food Macromolecules

Anjaney Kothari

Food macromolecules like carbohydrates, proteins and lipids are, quite literally, the building blocks of our lives. The chemistry of these food macromolecules is interesting as well as application-oriented. But the complex chemical structures of these macromolecules can add a substantial challenge against teaching this chemistry.

Needless to say, educators need some innovative and exciting ways to teach students about the chemistry of food macromolecules. Here, we list five ways to teach food macromolecules to your students in an exciting and stimulating manner.

1. Engage Students with Interactive Models

Food macromolecules have excessively complicated structures that many students tend to find tedious. To add to this complexity, the biochemical reactions that help detect these food macromolecules have their own individual quirks. It helps to have interactive, realistic visual aids to understand complex molecular structures and chemical reactions.

Take Labster’s food macromolecules simulation, for example. Our simulation introduces the students to a variety of biochemical tests to detect and quantify different types of food macromolecules. In a virtual lab environment, the students interactively understand the structures of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. They also conduct:

·   Benedict’s test for glucose and simple carbohydrates

·   Biuret test for proteins

·   Iodine test for starch

·       Sudan test for lipids and fatty acids

The students apply these tests on different food items to recommend a healthy diet to a virtual friend.

2. Make the Topic Fun with Games and Activities

Games and activities create a social learning environment that is far more effective than a classroom. This is because games and activities are dynamic, unpredictable (yet safe), engaging and fun. Try to make food macromolecules fun for your students by inviting them to partake in some games and activities.

For example, ask your students, in an impromptu manner, to give you a small sample of food from their lunchboxes. Prepare the samples to conduct biochemical tests for the presence of different food macromolecules. This live demonstration is dynamic, involves student participation, encourages discussion, and makes food chemistry fun.

3. Accelerate Learning by Incorporating Technology

Advanced technologies like virtual reality and simulation have proven to be great for the education sector. Concepts that were earlier difficult to teach have now become a treat for both educators and students. Food macromolecules constitute one such challenging concept that has benefitted from immersive technologies.

For example, in Labster’s food macromolecules simulation, students virtually complete the steps of various laboratory-based biochemical tests for food macromolecules. From transferring the reagents and test samples into test tubes to heating them in boiling water, from observing the colorimetric changes to interpreting the results, the students do it all – virtually, of course!

Discover Labster's Food Macromolecules virtual lab today!

4. Inspire Students Through Career Exploration

The information that students retain the longest is that which they know to be useful for their future professional endeavors. Allowing students to explore potential career choices that revolve around food macromolecules will make them excited about learning this topic.

For example, talk to your students about the role of regulatory bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Such regulatory authorities often test food products for the accuracy of nutrition labels that show the levels of food macromolecules. Tell your students how nutritionists recommend different combinations of foods depending on the relative concentrations of the different food macromolecules. Talk about how biologists often tweak the structures of these food macromolecules, using them for novel applications like drug delivery.

5. Connect Topic to Real-World Applications

Real-world applications of any study topic give the students a strong, straightforward reason to learn it diligently. Try to connect food macromolecules and their biochemical tests to their real-world applications to get students excited about these topics.

For example, talk about how the breakdown of food macromolecules is a necessary step in digestion and respiration. Discuss the significance of the nutrition label at the back of different food products. Describe which biochemical tests find commercial use in the nutrition labeling of food products.

Final thoughts

An introduction to food macromolecules is an essential but complex component of many basic chemistry laboratory courses. The innovative teaching methods we have discussed here will make food macromolecules an exciting topic for your students.

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