Error message

Deprecated function: The each() function is deprecated. This message will be suppressed on further calls in menu_set_active_trail() (line 2386 of /home/nixotca/public_html/gk12/includes/

Unit 2, Activity 4: Nutrients

Activity Description/Rationale 

The guiding questions of this activity are: what are nutrients? Which nutrients do specific foods contain? How can you determine which nutrients are in a given food? It exposes students to lesser known nutrients and the connections between specific nutrients and aspects of human health.  It also focuses on developing their own ability to determine what nutrients are in food. 


Students will…

- identify and describe macro- and micronutrients (e.g. carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals)

- know the basics of how nutrients are identified and measured with scientific instruments

- understand how they can determine which nutrients are in foods with their own senses


Universal Design for Learning/Differentiation



  1. Unit 1 quiz (1 per student)
  2. Sensing Nutrients Reference Chart (1 per student, so they can keep them for future use)
  3. different foods (both whole and processed with labels removed; you can use the same ones as the first activity), or the images of foods themselves on paper (this one is less preferable because students can’t assess physical characteristics and will have to rely on their memories of previous experiences with these foods) (1 per group)

Estimated Time of Activity
50 minutes

Students will have become familiar with the definition of nutrients, categories of nutrients, specific nutrients, and the functions nutrients have in human health from the homework readings.

Activity Instructions

  1. Do Now (10 min): Unit 1 Quiz
  2. Warm Up (10 min): Have student groups identify the basic categories of nutrients (e.g. fats, vitamins, proteins), and write them down inside circles on a piece of paper.  Then have them draw two lines per circle connecting that circle to two new empty circles, and fill in one of those with an example of the nutrient (e.g. vitamins – vitamin D, fats – saturated fat) and the other one with a short description of what that example provides for human health.  (See attached document for a visualization.)
  3. Whole Class Discussion (10 min): Have students from each group draw their nutrient diagrams on the board, and fill in any gaps.  Ask students which foods they would eat to get each nutrient and how they know that those foods contain that nutrient.  Most likely they will answer the latter with “the label”, which segues into the next part of the activity.  Ask students how the nutritional information on food labels is obtained, and briefly discuss [the reading]
  4. Group Work (10 min): Give each group one food or food image, and tell them to determine what nutrients it contains.  Tell them the only tools they have available are their senses.  After a few minutes (since they will probably only be able to generate a few answers without more background knowledge), give them the [sensory nutrient chart]
  5. Wrap-up/Whole Class Discussion (10 min): Ask each student group to tell the class what nutrients their food contains and how they know.  Assign them Activity F4a (see below), and ask them to do Part Two for one labeled and one unlabeled food.  Ask them to bring in all the labels they used for Parts One and Two. 


- read Reader F3 in Solar One’s Green Design Lab: Food and “Unit 5: Food Labeling and Advertising, Background” (p. 53-55) in Cornell University’s Discovering Our Food System
- do Activity F4a in Solar One’s Green Design Lab: Food (you’ll need to use both the Teacher’s and Student’s Guides to modify the activity to be a homework assignment rather than classroom activity)

Assessment and Reflection

The Unit 1 quiz obviously assesses students’ knowledge and understanding of the topics covered in Unit 1.  The Warm Up and Whole Class Discussion assess their prior knowledge of nutrients and whether they gained additional knowledge from the readings.   The Group Work assesses their ability to generate new knowledge and understanding of nutrients from their prior knowledge and the readings.  The Wrap-up encourages students to reflect on their old and new knowledge and understanding by asking them to explain how they know what they know.  The homework activity assesses their understanding of the new knowledge generated in the Group Work by asking them to analyze both labeled and unlabeled foods.