Saturday, May 30, 2015

Summer is here at JWU, but the programs must go on!

Contributed by Kristin M. Zosa Puleo, Event and Program Coordinator


Although Summer doesn't technically start for nearly a month, it's officially begun here at JWU! Graduation was last weekend (congrats grads!), and the students have packed up and moved out for the season. Our tour business usually picks up a bit around this time of year as the K-12 schools in the area wrap up, but this month was particularly busy - we had the opportunity to welcome nearly 300 students from the New Haven, Connecticut Talented and Gifted Program. Whenever a school teacher contacts me to arrange a tour, I try to tailor each tour to fit the purpose of the field trip. Classes who visit are usually learning about topics such as technology or Rhode Island culture. With the New Haven TAG group, I was charged with the task of creating a completely interactive tour for children in grades 6-12. I do love working on a case-by-case basis with each school, but this tour was so successful, that we're going to package it as a drop-in activity as well as a regular offering for school groups (take note, teachers and caregivers)!

We split the museum into five sections in five different exhibits, and students rotated through the museum in 15-20 minute segments. At each stop, the students were given a brief tour through the exhibit. They were then given a related activity which provided the kids with an extra layer of learning. The sections are outlined below:

"Working Together - Everyone Eats, 25 Years of the Empty Bowls Project"
Event Planning, Critical Thinking 
Following their tour of the exhibit, students were asked to plan their own Empty Bowls event, using a mock-Banquet Event Order form. They were assigned four major questions:
Who will make the bowls?
What food will you serve, and who will prepare the food?
Where will your event be held?
To which organization will the proceeds be donated?

I had two major ideas in mind with this station - Students would be the event planners, something that is taught here in the classrooms at Johnson & Wales. It was also a call to action, to get the students to think about their own community, and to perhaps even be inspired to put together an Empty Bowls event in real life. Low and behold, on the day I toured this section, there were two groups who asked for more information about hosting their own event, so I hope to see at least two Empty Bowls events happen in New Haven soon. Success!

"Culinary Olympics"
Students were taught about the art of the showpiece in the bakery section of the museum, where we display the work of JWU students and chefs in the Baking and Pastry program. Students were then asked to create their own three-tier cake (or showpiece of their choice) on paper. This is not just a coloring/drawing activity. JWU students do have to show their ideas on paper before creating them in edible form.

"Culinary Beginnings"
History/Social Studies, Public Speaking
After a brief explanation of this gallery of antiquities, students were asked to divide and conquer - they were asked to pick an object on display, or even a wall graphic, and describe it. They could simply read from the label, or they could just talk about what drew them to the artifact. The great thing about this activity is that it can work on any age level. If children are not old enough to read what's on the label, they can talk about why they chose the object. It's all about the relative experience in this gallery. 

"Kitchen Stoves: From Open Hearth to the Microwave"
History/Technology, Listening/Comprehension
The students were sent on a scavenger hunt through our kitchen vignettes after their tour. They were asked to identify artifacts that were introduced by their tour guide, as well as the era to which they belonged. They were also asked to use their skills of observation to identify the different types of fuels used by the stoves on display.

"Diners: Still Cookin' in the 21st Century"
Art, Menu Design, Restaurant Design and Branding
This section of the museum was dedicated to designing a diner (a huge task for a short amount of time). In the School of Engineering and Design here at JWU, there is a class dedicated to food truck branding, it was my inspiration for this activity.

After learning about the history of the diner, and after discussing the types of foods traditionally served in diners, students were asked to team up and create their very own diner, along with one special dish. I think it's worth noting that the first group of kids missed out on their chance to stop at the local doughnut shop on the trip up to Providence, so we got a good deal of plates of doughnuts that day...

Now this is one affordable breakfast! I'm seeing home fries, eggs with ketchup, bacon, sausage, and a garnish? Is that a garnish?

Who wouldn't want this Homer Simpson-sized doughnut?

Dorothy's Diner, where the burgers are out of this world (and so are the prices)!
It's a plate of food. There's no arguing with that.

Would one get motion sickness while eating in a floating diner? I love the concept, it's definitely showy!

One thing roadside establishments need to do is get noticed. I don't think passersby could possibly miss the giant chef hat and knife! Not to mention that brightly lit sign.

After the tours, we received great feedback from the New Haven teachers, and I got some equally great feedback from our Student Assistants and staff members involved. It was a great way to bring the museum alive in a different way, and I'd like to thank my colleagues at the CAM as well as the New Haven TAG students, chaperones, and teachers for making the visits such a success!

Keep an eye out on the CAM social media for the official launch of this new program, as well as our summer edition of Project Cupcake (including one for the adults in the audience - back after popular demand)!