iCook Session #1

After months of planning, recruiting, and conducting assessments it finally came time to teach session one! We ended up filling about five of our six classes with at least four parent/child groups (also referred to as dyads). Currently, there are three interns who will be teaching the first four sessions and then the other two interns will teach the last two. Remi, Erin, and I alternated teaching the lessons by serving as either Chef, Sous Chef, or an extra helper. We were also lucky enough to have the assistance of three undergraduate students who assisted with note taking, technology, set-up, and cleaning all the dishes.

This first session was entitled “Tools of the Trade.” We covered knife safety skills, physical activity, camera/website use, and an introduction to iCook. The classes had anywhere from four to eight dyads present. This was a great learning experience for the children, parents, and even us! The kids knife skills improved greatly just from the beginning of the class to the end and the parents’ confidence in their kids abilities also greatly improved. While allowing kids (age 8-11) to use a sharp chef knife may seem like an unsafe thing to do, with the right support and monitoring from the parents the kids can accomplish cutting bananas, strawberries, apples, and even kiwi safely! We made it through the entire weekend without any cuts! You can tell which kids had prior experience and which had never even held a knife before. It was fun to work with these kids and I can’t wait to watch their skills improve over the next few months as we move through the sessions!



iCook Recruitment CONTINUES!

If there is one thing I have learned these past few weeks it is that recruiting human subjects for any research projects is HARD! No matter how excited the kids are about joining that doesn’t mean that their parents are going to pick up the phone and enroll. We have had to extend the recruitment process for this study and continue to recruit an extra week or two to hopefully meet our target! We are currently about 1/3 of the way there… with only 1 week left IT IS CRUNCH TIME!

We hit the schools yet again and decided to sing a song that Erin Smith and her dad wrote! Here is the video of us with an entire lunch room of 5th graders singing the tune after we have described the iCook study!


It has been fun speaking with thousands of 4th and 5th graders but at this point… I am just ready for us to reach our goal and start the actual instruction component of this research study! Below are some silly pictures of Erin and I as we toured the schools!

iCook 4-H Nutrition Education!

This past week of my rotation I primarily spent time focusing on preparing with the team for the iCook lessons. We focused on learning the material, preparing the recipes, and practicing delivering the lesson to children! When teaching children is important to remember who your audience is and know how to keep them engaged. By practicing these lesson we solidified the materials we will need and test all of our equipment. These lesson will start the first weekend of August and continue through November for a total of 6 lessons. This is awesome program that targets children between the ages of 9-10 that emphasizes family meal time, physical activity and nutrition/cooking. Below are just a few snap shots of the team and pictures of the mock lessons!

To learn more about iCook please refer to my previous post found here.

Next week will be our final week of recruitment so stay tuned for more pictures and information about iCook!

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Why Fire Makes Us Human

For my community nutrition rotation I was given the assignment to create a bulletin board display based of the Smithsonian article “Mind of Fire.”  The article describes a fascinating theory that really makes you think!  Can you imagine life without fire?  I sure can’t!  I have attached the power point version of my version below with an image of my actual bulletin board that is currently hanging in the Ag Science Building on the West Virginia University Campus.

Mind of Fire Display

NEMS – Nutrition Environment Measures Study

As part of my community nutrition rotation through WVU Extension I had the opportunity to become trained on conducting the Nutrition Environment Measures Study (NEMS). After spending about six hours online learning the background of the survey and how to use the tool I was ready to venture into the community. For our first time out we joined a Masters in Public Health student to test our skills. The MPH student has been conducting these for about two years and is very well versed when it comes to NEMS. We accompanied her on visits to large grocery stores, small convenience stores, and local restaurants.

This survey was created to be able to assess a wide-range of nutrition environment. A nutrition environment can be defined as places in a community where individuals can purchase food items. NEMS focuses on recording the type of food outlet, the availability of healthy food choices, nutrition information, and the marketing of different foods.  The objectives of the original NEMS were to:

  • Develop measures of nutrition environments and survey retail and food service outlets (stores and restaurants)
  • Test the inter-rater and test-retest reliability of NEMS instruments
  • Examine sampling and generalizability issues

When we went into a food establishment (restaurant or grocery store) we would go through a packet of question that assessed the size of the establishment, prices, options available for produce, milk, bread, cereal, meats, hot dogs, juice, soda and baked goods. These assessments can take over an hour to complete for the larger grocery stores because of their tedious nature and length.

I am glad I had the opportunity to partake in this data collection process and feel confident that I am able to conduct these surveys on my own in the weeks to come!

Grocery Store Shopping