Student looking through microscope

October 26, 2017, by Guest Blogger

My Summer School experience – Food and Crop Science

Lillie Jenkins was one of 24 Year 12 students who attended our Summer School in Food and Crop Science this year. She enjoyed it so much she’s written this guest post for us! 

The subject of food captivates me not only due to its ever-increasing prevalence in today’s society, but due to the science behind nutrition, and the psychology involved in consumer choices. Since GCSE Home Economics, I have been fascinated by the specificities to individual diets: pregnant women; obese children; type two diabetes. I am certain my future will involve a branch of the food industry, which is one of the fastest growing in the world, already valuing at £200 billion. In particular, I am interested in the development of new food products and the influence I could have on the health of the public.

I decided to apply for the Nottingham Summer School in Food and Crop Science because I thought it could help me extend my knowledge of the industry and determine my chosen career path. Arriving at Sutton Bonington, despite being nervous I was excited to immerse myself in the events organised and make new friends. We were welcomed with lunch and team-building activities helping me feel instantly comfortable.

The first activity took place in the “superlab”, an impressive, brand new laboratory full of modern equipment which we were able to use in experiments, ranging from comparing bacteria in fresh packaged rice to old rice, swabbing our hands for pathogens and testing the bioluminescence of E.coli. For people planning to do food science at university it was the perfect introduction to the three days, providing continuous tasters of what the course offers.

We learnt about sensory analysis and its importance in food manufacturing, using specialist equipment, we tested the sense of smell in relation to the taste of an Oreo. Interestingly, the taste and smell of food is intensified when saturated with a liquid, so we repeated the experiment with an Oreo dunked in milk. That day we also took part in ice-cream tasting, deciding on our favourite product and packaging, then skittle tasting, attempting to establish flavours by looking at their colour, then using the limited edition white skittles and seeing if it was harder.

One of my favourite activities was the talk given on insects and their potential role in sustaining an alternative global protein source for the future. We were given the chance to try some energy/protein bars made with cricket flour called “Jimminy’s”, an inventive new product, inspiring us to then create our own product, pitching our idea and brand to the group.

The best part of the three days was the lecture in which a representative from The Food & Drink Federation spoke about the food industry, followed by a formal dinner in which we were lucky enough to meet the companies who had sponsored our experience, and other representatives from food businesses. My most memorable part was talking to the people from Marks and Spencers, one being in charge of “Percy pig” production, the other a quality control and food science expert. This allowed me to learn and understand their company more, useful as I would love to potentially work for them in the future and I believe this summer school has improved my chances.

I would definitely recommend attending if you are considering it, I am now certain I want to pursue a nutrition course at university and follow a career in this industry. It has been an enriching experience solidifying my long-term goal.

students posing for a photo

Find out more about the Summer School in Food and Crop Science.

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