Nav: Home

A sweeter way of teaching health and safety

August 04, 2016

A new study shows using chocolate as a test material in experimental, hands-on practical work increases student engagement. It provides a much better way than previous methods for helping students understand the importance of health and safety in their ongoing studies and future careers.

Health and Safety is traditionally a difficult and dry subject to get across to students, especially early in their university program. First year students struggle to see the relevance of key hazard control techniques such as risk assessment and are more enthusiastic to proceed with the practical aspects of the work.

The adoption of chocolate is part of the practical 'Danger Lab', designed to introduce students of all levels of skill and experience to the practice of designing their own experiment, assessing the dangers and hazards associated with it, and to reinforce the basic concept of a safety culture - that of individual responsibility. The experiment sees students measure the toughness of chocolate, how hard it is to break, at room temperature and then how it changes by dipping it in liquid nitrogen, -196 degrees Celsius.

Dr Julian Dean, Senior Lecturer and co-creator of Danger Lab said "Trialling the concept in the Department, we saw a significant increase in student engagement, with the basic principles reinforced when they entered the laboratories for their core practical sessions."

"The use of chocolate as the test material in the risk assessment is an attractive lure to performing the experiment, but the use of liquid nitrogen puts the student on the back foot making them cautious. Students perceive real risk in an environment that appears fraught with danger, but which is actually carefully controlled."

First year undergraduate student Jason Burnap said "Explanations as to how a risk assessment is conducted and the importance of carrying out such protocols were made clear and concise by the teachers. The laboratory activity (Charpy testing) was also fun to do, and I learnt a lot about the property "fracture toughness" from performing the experiment."

Professor Stephen Beck, Head of Multidisciplinary Engineering Education in The Diamond, said "From a technical management perspective these introductory Danger Labs fulfil a critical role, laying the seeds for future benefits when this first year cohort progresses to carry out more student led activities, project work and research programs. The Diamond aims to create a new generation of Sheffield graduates who are health and safety capable, responsible, risk aware, but not risk averse."
-end-
Notes to Editor

A sweeter way of teaching health and safety, Physics Education

The Experiment

The experimental practical was first developed in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, as part of first year undergraduate practicals in which students design, cost and cast composite chocolate samples to maximize a particular performance criterion. This has now been rolled out to the entire Faculty of Engineering (>1600 students).

Using the material chocolate to test the fracture behaviour of a material was first designed by Dr Russell Goodall and published in Physics Education in 2011, and has since become used in a number of other practical such as "high performance composite chocolate" also published in Physics Education 2013.

Engineering at Sheffield

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Sheffield is one of the biggest in the UK. With seven departments and three interdisciplinary programmes covering all the engineering disciplines, over 5,000 students, 950 staff and £77m annual research-related income from government, industry and charity, it is one of the best institutions in the world to study or carry out research in engineering.

http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/engineering

University of Sheffield

Related Chocolate Articles:

SUTD's breakthrough research allows for 3D printed chocolate without temperature control
SUTD's new approach to the 3D printing of chocolate using cold extrusion instead of conventional hot-melt extrusion method eliminates the need for stringent temperature controls, offering wider potential for 3D printing temperature-sensitive food.
The flavor of chocolate is developed during the processing of the cocoa beans
Can you manipulate the taste of noble cocoas in different directions to create exciting new flavours for the world's chocolate fans?
Chocolate muddles cannabis potency testing
Since the first states legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, several others have joined them, and cannabis-infused edibles, including gummy bears, cookies and chocolates, have flooded the market.
Do we judge chocolate by its wrapper?
Packaging is the first impression consumers have of food products that influences the likelihood of purchasing.
The smell of dark chocolate, demystified
Chocolate is one of the most-consumed treats around the world, and the smell alone is usually enough to evoke strong cravings from even the most disciplined eaters.
Great chocolate is a complex mix of science, physicists reveal
The science of what makes good chocolate has been revealed by researchers studying a 140-year-old mixing technique.
How the 'good feeling' can influence the purchase of sustainable chocolate
More and more products carry ethical labels such as fair-trade or organic, which consumers view positively.
What is white chocolate? (video)
Today, we're showing our love for white chocolate. Sure, it lacks the rich flavor of milk chocolate and the glossy brown color of dark chocolate.
Can chocolate, tea, coffee and zinc help make you more healthy?
Ageing and a low life expectancy are caused, at least partly, by oxidative stress.
Did eating dark chocolate improve vision?
A small study found slight improvement in vision after eating dark chocolate.
More Chocolate News and Chocolate Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab