Principal Ingrid Stewart says the school’s staff room, medical treatment room, sick bay, principal’s office and kitchen were transformed into a food technology and science laboratory as students learned about the dairy delight.
“This area has become a great place to teach valuable life skills, maths, science, enterprise concepts and hospitality all through the art of cheese making,” says Stewart.
The principal says students have learnt that adding an acid such as lemon to a liquid such as milk at the precise temperature will separate the curds from the whey.
“This simple but precise procedure is significant to cheese making and the Grade 5 and 6 students at Vaitau Primary School have mastered the technique.”
The students’ role in recording milk temperatures and making graphs, forecasting trends and making predictions has all been tracked carefully in their workbooks.
“Who would have thought cheese could do so much,” says Stewart.
The principal says students have been looking at how cheese can help with making strong bones and teeth.
“How much cheese can you make with three litres of milk and what will this cost me to make? Who might eat my cheese and can I plate and present my cheese attractively for a restaurant table?”
“What is a hors d’ouerve and why is it so small? And most importantly how many cheese hor d’ouerves will fit into my mouth before the teacher notices,” quips the principal.
“Who would have thought there was so much teaching in a block of cheese?”
Stewart says the students have been working “skillfully and noisily” as they strained and separated the curds and whey to leave the curds hanging in a cloth.
“The students have questioned and surveyed people about taste preferences which are now used to guide the flavor to be added to their cheese.”
Learning about presentation was just as important for the students as they picked a few flowers and prepared their dish for a photo shoot.
“The photographic evidence taken and collected by the students becomes part of their assessment process,” says Stewart.
“Peer and self assessment is carried out by the teams and it has shown that most students are often harder on themselves than a teacher’s assessment of the same learning.”
Break time signaled a rush of people to the staff room as cheese hors d’ouevres were served.
“Patiently the students watch and wait as the seniors cut and portion their latest cheese creation,” says Stewart.
“The pride of the senior students can’t be missed as they carefully see that young or old, no one is missed,” adds Stewart before revealing the next step for the cheese connoisseurs – cheesecake.