Camembert in the classroom

Posted on 2016-02-12 by W McD

The creation of delicious homemade cheese is being used to encourage Waikato students to explore alternative career pathways. Year 10 and 11 students from Te Awamutu College and Ngaruawahia High School put their cheese making skills to the test when they took part in the Camembert in the Classroom competition.

Developed by Wintec’s Centre for Science and Primary Industries and the New Zealand Cheese School Limited, Camembert in the Classroom saw more than 60 young people learn how to make their own versions of the French cheese.The project was incorporated into science and food technology programmes and was designed to create interest in pursuing careers in cheese making, the dairy industry, science and hospitality.

Ngaruawahia High School head of science, Julia Liefting, says she had never made cheese before so when she first heard about the project she was keen to get her students involved. “It immediately sounded really interesting and was a chance to try something new,” she says. “It’s hands-on and it brings together science and food.” Julia says it was a good opportunity to work across subjects, and the curriculum, with some of the school’s year 10 students. “In science it linked in with the micro-organisms unit and for food technology it linked in with food safety and other units.”

Wintec provided each school with cheese making kits and trained the teachers involved. Te Awamutu College head of Home Economics, Maree Letford, says she was planning to create a cheese making assessment resource when she first heard about the competition. “Camembert in the Classroom was extremely successful,” she says. “The students learnt about the science of cheese making, the manipulation of milk, the sterilization process and more. “Some of the student’s cheese had little air bubbles in it which meant it hadn’t been kept at a consistent temperature, that was a really good learning opportunity.”

Wintec hosted the final judging session where the 16 top creations went head-to-head. First and second place both went to students from Ngaruawahia, while third place went to Te Awamutu. Julia says the competition was a good lesson in time management for the students. “Cheese making is quite a lengthy process,” she says. “They spent a lot of time working on making the product and then they had to leave it for six weeks after making it.” Maree says some of her students who participated in the competition are going to study hospitality. “I hope it gives them a hunger or a desire to consider going into the dairy industry,” she says. Julia and Maree are both eager to take part in the competition again this year.

Two Waikato secondary schools have participated in the Camembert in the Classroom competition.

Two Waikato secondary schools have participated in the Camembert in the Classroom competition.