Microbiology at work

Microbiology at work

About the Project

Leading food ingredient manufacturer Devro worked with over 120 S1 pupils to provide them with an insight into the importance of science, engineering and technology to the largest manufacturing industry in Scotland.

The pupils were tasked by Devro to work in teams to investigate new product development, the science of food, food safety and hygiene and career opportunities and job skills. To put their knowledge to good use, the teams were challenged to produce a magazine reflecting what they had learned.

It's well better than school

Pupil, Chryston High School

Project Partners, Aims and Objectives

  • Highlight the range of skills required by the industry
  • Raise awareness about the industry and its products
  • Design new products
  • Support local schools and communities
  • Provide opportunities for staff development
  • Explore the science of food
  • Conduct experiments and investigations
  • Putting CfE into a workplace context

Outcome

The winning magazine was chosen by Devro and announced at an awards ceremony. Effort, variety and originality were looked for in making the final decision.

Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) – The School identified relevant CfE Experiences and Outcomes and the company looked to match their input to meet these

Improved awareness - The school, Devro and the pupils all agreed that the project improved their awareness of food production, processed and products.

Understanding of food industry career - Almost 70 per cent of the pupils that took part said they now know either a little bit or a lot more about the food industry.

Learning and development of staff – Devro selected eight ambassadors to be part of the project – this contributed to continuing professional development by building confidence, presentation skills and the understanding of a modern learning environment.

How we did it

Devro Managing Director, Alan Kilpatrick launched the project by giving pupils an understanding of their international business and their product range. Alan set them the challenge of producing a magazine for Devro visitors and new staff. The purpose of the magazine was to tell the reader about micro-organisms and also to contain any three of the following topics:

  • Food Industry in Scotland - Sausages around the world
  • Careers in the food industry - Scottish scientists and Micro-organisms
  • Food industry and Micro-organisms - Kitchen Hygiene
  • Good verses bad micro-organisms - Micro-organisms in medicine
  • Design a new sausage for Devro - The Scottish diet

As part of the launch, the pupils attended a series of workshops run in the school to learn about microbiology, the science of food and industry careers. The workshops were developed and run by Devro employees that had been selected to be Ambassadors for the company.

By using the enthusiasm and knowledge of the ambassadors, they were able to engage the pupils in a fun and interactive way. From career 'blind date' that encouraged discussion of careers, to testing for cleanliness with a UV lamp to taste testing sausages from around the world [link to images of the day].

What we learned

Relevance - Some pupils appreciated where and how the learning involved in the project fitted in with their wider studies, but as this used independent learning, others found it more challenging.

Enhanced skills – The pupils learned how to work in teams, listening skills, research and report writing, the science behind food production, the sustainability of food production and also information technology and presentation skills.

Unraveling the food industry – the food industry is not always directly associated with careers like engineering and science, so this project illuminated how those careers directly relate to a significant local employer.

What next?

Age and stage – This type of project is worth considering for an older age group.

CPD – There is a clear opportunity for industry links to contribute to staff CPD