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Iowa State Faculty connecting with Lego League!

Students gathered samples from common surfaces in their school building and swabbed on nutrient agar plates they created themselves.

Food Safety is the theme of the 2011 Lego League Challenge. Given the world-wide reputation of Iowa State University in this area, no surprise faculty in Research and Extension are receiving many requests for expert advice.

ISU Extension and Outreach coordinated an effort among campus food safety experts to compile existing campus resources for Lego league participants. These were posted on the Food Safety Project page under Hot Topics.

Jim Dickson, Animal Science Professor and renowned microbiologist, has hosted several student groups on campus and visited classrooms of students pursuing the Lego League Challenge. Catherine Strohbehn, HRIM Extension Specialist, has collaborated with award winning Michigan teacher, Chris McAuliffe, his 5th grade class to investigate sack lunch food safety.

Dr. Strohbehn and fifth graders checking temperatures of bologna sandwiches.
Dr. Strohbehn and fifth graders checking temperatures of bologna sandwiches.

 Students in Chris’s class identified a common problem: meat sandwiches in sack lunches are kept at improper temperatures. So, one project has been to conduct trials with different packing treatments of a bologna sandwich (bread, bologna, tomato, and mayonnaise).  The same protocol was followed in trials at ISU. The students have an innovative packing product in mind as part of their project (stay tuned).

The fifth graders and Dr. Strohbehn used Skype technology to discuss their findings.