Connecting with our local community has always been something that I've valued as an educator, but have never been great at. I have no doubt that bringing professionals from our local restaurant industry into the classroom to share their experience and expertise is a surefire way to make learning relevant. However, the reality is it takes time and a lot of coordination to make it happen.
As I was thinking about our Amazing Food Truck Race that is just beginning, I knew I wanted to be more intentional about involving our local food trucks to make this experience as meaningful and relevant as possible. The problem is, food truck hours and my work schedule don't mesh well and I have a hard time finding the time to connect with them all. Then, the lightbulb turned on for me....how about I make it an Adventure Quest and involve my students in connecting with our local food trucks!
I created postcards that explained our Amazing Food Truck Race and invited them to come judge and/or share their business expertise with us. . I wrote a local food truck name on each one and than gave 4 to each team to hand deliver. Here is where the Adventure Quest came in! For each card they delivered and documented with a picture posted to Google Classroom, they would earn 1 extra ingredient for their signature dish they would be launching to investors. To make sure students were truly making the connection meaningful and not just dropping off the cards and running, I gave an additional bonus ingredient for every call I received from a food truck as a result of their visit.
This Adventure Quest was the answer to a solution that has always been so difficult to remedy! It was a stretch for some of my students to venture out of their comfort zones to make the contacts, but knowing that they could go as a team to these businesses made all the difference and gave them the confidence they needed. They also quickly realized how valuable these connections can be. One food truck that a team visited was so impressed with their food truck concept, that he gave them some special tips on meat selection and marinade! I introduced this Adventure Quest less than a week ago and I already am getting calls from local food trucks that are excited to be involved. One food truck owner was so intrigued and excited, that he not only wants to judge, but he wants to bring his food truck onto campus and teach our students some tricks of the trade!
This is the perfect example of how the gamified class is always evolving. There are so many opportunities to bring in new game mechanics and add twists and turns to keep students engaged, immersed, and on their toes! Continue to find ways to make learning relevant, meaningful, and an experience that students will never forget!
The Amazing Food Truck Race began today in my Culinary 3 class! Six teams of four will travel across the United States from Medford, Maine to Medford, Oregon in their food truck discovering our nation's finest cuisine. Each team will create a food truck name, logo, and signature dish that will be adapted to match the flavor profiles and cuisine of each region that they visit. The object of the game is to get back home with the most profitable food truck and a great understanding of the regional flavors and cuisine of America.
As students came in to class I had epic music playing in the background and The Amazing Food Truck Race slide shown above. I explained just enough of the game framework to get them excited, but left out enough to keep them guessing. Now time for a challenge to earn ingredients for their signature dish! I created clues from an episode of The Great Food Truck Race on the Food Network that they watched the day prior. I placed each clue in a numbered envelope and set them out on their kitchen counter. When the sand timer was flipped, students opened one of 7 envelopes and tried to answer the clue in the given amount of time. If the team answered the clue correctly within the time, they earned the number of ingredients indicated on the clue. I repeated until all clues were revealed and time ran out. Correct answers were tallied, and now teams knew how many ingredients they had to work with to create their signature dish.
Food Truck Creation
Signature dishes may contain only the number of ingredients earned in the first challenge. However, flour, sugar, salt, and one additional spice are considered free and will not take away from ingredients earned. Students were now set free to begin creating. It was awesome to see their minds spinning with ideas as they considered food truck names, slogans, logos, and signature dishes. I loved how they were thinking critically and creatively about the flexibility and profit potential of certain types of foods. The excitement in the classroom was palpable and the communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking were all at work as students were completely immersed in this new adventure.
Once students have nailed down their food truck concepts they will be pitching it to investors. I will be inviting staff, district administrators, and food truck owners to our class to hear their marketing pitches and taste signature dishes in hopes that investors will support their food truck with seed money to start the race. Students will set up tables with signature dish samples and they will have a presentation prepared to share with investors. Investors will all be given a rubric to evaluate and play money to divide up among the teams that they feel have the strongest food truck concepts.
I couldn't be more excited for the adventures ahead! Stay tuned as South Medford food trucks hit the road in search of America's finest cuisine!
Culinary teacher & Discovery School Lead in Southern Oregon, passionate about finding innovative ways to make learning magical for students. Love to gamify!