Editor: Media members who would like to attend the event should contact Bala Balasubramaniam at firstname.lastname@example.org or to make arrangements.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- About 100 elementary and middle school students from central Ohio schools will learn the basics about food science and technology and food safety at Ohio State University's Department of Food Science and Technology on Monday, Sept. 26, at 4 p.m.
The event is part of the students' initial activity in FIRST LEGO League, or FLL, a national robotics program for 9 to 14 year olds, designed to get children excited about science, engineering and technology -- and teach them valuable employment and life skills.
V.M. "Bala" Balasubramaniam, associate professor of food science and technology, has helped coach a team at Sells Middle School in Dublin for the past two years. This year, when the focus of FLL projects was designated as involving food safety, he made arrangements to host teams in his department.
The first group of about 120 students and coaches visited the department last Monday; the group on Sept. 26 will be nearly as large, Balasubramaniam said.
After an initial presentation at 4:30 p.m., students will tour the three pilot plants in the Parker Food Science Building and Howlett Hall from 5-6:30 p.m. They'll learn about pasteurization and cheese in the dairy pilot plant, the canning process in the Fruits and Vegetables processing plant, and high pressure processing in the Emerging Technology pilot plant. They also will be involved in a small activity to test the cleanliness of different surfaces.
FLL teams are composed of up to 10 children with at least one adult coach (usually a parent volunteer). Every September, FLL releases a Challenge, which is based on a real-world scientific topic. For 2011 FLL identified "Food Safety" as the theme for the challenge (http://firstlegoleague.org/challenge/2011foodfactor).
Central Ohio has more than 100 robotic teams from various middle and elementary schools. Dublin has about 25 robotic teams. Last year, about 19,000 teams from 55 countries participated in FLL competition.
Teams that will visit the department on Monday are from: Edison Elementary School; Wyandot Elementary School; Davis Middle School/Chapman Elementary School; Sells Middle School/Karrer Middle School/Wyandot Elementary School; two teams from Blendon Middle School; Logan Elm Schools; Griffith Thomas Elementary School; Deer Run Elementary School; John Sells Middle School; and Longfellow Elementary Magnet School.