Young Enterprise Scheme and the technology learning area
Industry links and the Young Enterprise Scheme
In this teaching snapshot we look at the development of a programme where Karen Cowley facilitated a group of girls through the Young Enterprise Scheme.
The students' outcome of a kiwifruit sauce solved a major issue for producers of kiwifruit products. The students managed to keep the kiwifruit's natural green colour in the preserving process.
Karen's preparation for the class was in facilitating contact between the students, the client, the Young Enterprise Trust, and industry mentors. She ensured the students were properly introduced to the scheme and the people with whom they would be communicating and working.
Integrating technological practice alongside Young Enterprise
After consultation with their client the girls came up with their brief. The brief was to create a luxury food product using kiwifruit to be sold at the farmers' market toward the end of the year. They set about the process to create a product while also taking on the extra challenge of the Young Enterprise Scheme.
"What I realised last year was that it's a twofold thing. You've got the Young Enterprise stuff where the students set up their company, do some fundraising and set up meetings. Then alongside that they are involved in their technological practice – researching the company, potential customers, and looking into the product and its history."Karen Cowley
Designing and developing a processed outcome
The first step for the girls was to conduct an extensive series of trials using a variety of ideas, working with kiwifruit as a base ingredient. Karen feels that a key difference between this and the previous programme of learning was having six students instead of two. The bigger group gave the students more options.
"This meant they could trial a wide range of kiwifruit products and take one section each, experimenting with salsas, marinades, drinks bases, jams, and sauces all using kiwifruit. They kept trialling and testing these as a group, and on a small number of potential customers, until they decided that the sauce was something that they wanted to concentrate on."Karen Cowley
Eventually the students narrowed their sauces down to two flavours they thought got the best response in their sensory trials. One was plain kiwifruit and the other a kiwifruit and raspberry mix. The student then chose one to develop further.
"The raspberry had a pink colour to it and the kiwifruit sauce was fairly brown. So, while it didn't look great, they eventually chose the kiwifruit sauce as long they could get a good green colour on it so that it looked fairly attractive. Choosing the single fruit product was partly a financial thing because raspberries are quite an expensive ingredient, but also [the single fruit product] fitted the original brief more."Karen Cowley
Being a seasonal fruit, kiwifruit prices fluctuate over the year. The girls decided to trial different ways of preparing and preserving the kiwifruit while it was at a favourable price.
The students trialled a few methods such as freezing the kiwifruit whole. They found that while the fruit maintained its flavour it still went brown soon after being prepared. Headway was eventually made when the girls started experimenting with different fruit juicing machines to create a liquid kiwifruit stock.
"They used some different juicers because one of them turned out a juice that went brown very quickly and another one kept the colour much better. I think that was down to the physical way that the machines worked and how much oxygen they put into the mix. The more oxygen, the quicker it went brown. So they identified that this juicing process was what made a difference as to whether they were able to keep the colour or not."Karen Cowley
With the colour issue solved the students could then focus on the consistency and flavour of the product. They experimented with boiling down the sauce and added a variety of different thickeners and flavourings such as arrowroot and citric acid. This also helped maintain the bright green colour the girls wanted without the use of colourings.
The teacher's role
Karen feels that a major benefit of the technology learning area and the Young Enterprise Scheme is the sense of ownership they both encourage in students with the work they do. To help with this, Karen sees her role as one of a facilitator and tries to give the students as much freedom and responsibility as possible. Within that role, her biggest challenge is to find the right balance of teacher intervention to ensure the project stays on target.
"Basically, it has to be what the students want it to be. They have a certain timeframe by which things have to be done, and I put some effort into creating those deadlines. But within that I try to give as much flexibility as I possibly can so they can see when things need to be done and recognise it for themselves. And that's a big part of what they are learning – how to use their time properly."Karen Cowley
Karen is happy to report that on the day of the farmers' market, the girls' stall proved to be the most successful in the history of the programme of learning so far.
"They made quite a lot of money and one of the most positive things was that a local company who made hampers of Hawke's Bay products was interested in purchasing the product," says Karen. "They are currently in negotiation to buy the recipe from the girls and possibly continue to make it and put it in their hampers, so that's a big success story, I think, and it is absolutely what technology and the Young Enterprise Scheme is all about."Karen Cowley