FOOD SENSORY ANALYSIS: A TOOL FOR TRAINING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS TO IMPROVE THE SCIENTIFIC CULTURE SKILLS

L. Lipan1, M. Cano-Lamadrid1, R. Martínez2, A. Verdú3, M. Llorca4, A.A. Carbonell-Barrachina1, E. Sendra1

1Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche (SPAIN)
2Instituto de Educación Secundaria Jaime de Sant-Ángel, Redovan (SPAIN)
3Consejo Regulador de las Denominaciones Específicas Jijona y Turrón de (SPAIN)
4Chocolates Valor, S.A. (SPAIN)
An OSMOSIS project (collaborative project among University ad High School) was carried out by Universidad Miguel Hernández of Elche (UMH) and consisted in building and implementing innovative knowledge for Secondary Education (Horizon 2014-Schools and Horizon 2015-K12). This project involved teachers and students from the Scientific Culture Course of the High School Jaime de Sant Ángel (Redovan, Alicante, Spain) and the AgroFood technology Department of UMH. The topic of this work was the application of Food Sensory Science to enhance high school students´ scientific skills and knowledge. Sensory Analysis includes both science and technology disciplines which are the key to understanding our environment, and the essential engine for research, development and innovation. The project was designed for 15-18 years old students. The project combined knowledge from food chemistry, biology, mathematics and language.

The activity was organized in 6 blocks of activities:
1) Working plan design by the University and High School teams,
2) Presentation of the working plan to students,
3) Initial questionnaire to students based on Ishihara test, the ability to describe a food product and the recognition of basic aromas and taste,
4) Training process of sensory testing ability of students that consisted of a total of 5 sessions, and included discriminative tests, use of scales, descriptive tests, lexicon development, description of real samples,
5) Final questionnaire to students with same content as the initial one, and
6) Data processing, correction and revision by students in order to evaluate their achievements.

One of the most important findings was that after training, the students were able to rank different types of chocolate depending on their formulation (percentage of cacao) with the sense of taste (mainly bitterness, sweetness and astringency) and achieved a high ability for the description of sensory properties of food. Afterwards, the students developed a research project based on the achieved knowledge which was presented in a science fair. The project compared the results of sensory analysis of chocolate run by assistants to the science fair (untrained panel) versus themselves (trained panel). This project is presented as an example of interdisciplinary collaborative project among University, Food Industry and High School.