Eating becomes learning during Nutritional Chemistry and the Brain class

Students in Nutritional Chemistry and the Brain try different foods after completing a project about nutrients in vegetables.  Courtesy of Mrs. Linda Vasu

Students in Nutritional Chemistry and the Brain try different foods after completing a project about nutrients in vegetables.
Courtesy of Mrs. Linda Vasu

Students at Convent of the Sacred Heart love to eat, and with a new course added to their school curriculum, they can learn how to eat the right way.

Nutritional Chemistry and the Brain teaches students the effects of diet on brain function. Students begin by studying the fundamentals of nutritional chemistry followed by the brain, including brain composition, brain chemistry, and foods that enhance brain activity. Students end the year with a research project.

Dr. Victoria Landry, Upper School science teacher and Chair of Upper School Science Department, teaches the class for both college prep and honors sections. She was inspired to create this class after completing a nutrition course that certifies her as a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. 

“While I was studying for my classes, I kept on seeing a connection between what I normally teach in my chemistry courses and what I was learning in my nutritional classes and so it seemed like a perfect way to create an interdisciplinary class that students can get excited about,” Dr. Landry said.

Dr. Landry’s hopes have become a reality, as students in the class also seem to be taking an interest in the subject.

“I am very excited to be taking this course,” senior Grace Kennedy said. “Initially, I was interested because it sounded like an amazing opportunity to learn about how I should be eating. So far, I love taking it.”

According to fitness.gov, good nutrition is important not only during youth, but also during adult life. 

“Nutrition and brain health is something that is a big deal right now in the United States,” Dr. Landry said. “I hope that ultimately students are inspired to pursue chemistry or one of the other sciences as a way to become somebody who is highly skilled in a field that could really benefit society.”

Students in Nutritional Chemistry and the Brain try different vegetables while listening to a presentation about summer squash. Courtesy of Mrs. Linda Vasu

Students in Nutritional Chemistry and the Brain try different vegetables while listening to a presentation about summer squash.
Courtesy of Mrs. Linda Vasu

Other science courses at Sacred Heart include advanced placement, honors and college preparatory Biology, Physics, Environmental Science, and Chemistry. The mission of the Nutritional Chemistry class is similar to those of classes that also hope to build valuable skills, which include the recently added Computer Programming Seminar, Principles of Computing and AP Computer Science classes. 

“Every science teacher wants their student to realize how what we talk about in the classroom applies to their everyday life,” Dr. Landry said. “I thought this class would be a great time to really focus on something very much like everyday life.” 

Dr. Landry anticipates that students in Nutritional Chemistry will learn the effects of food on the brain and how to implement this knowledge throughout the rest of their high school lives and beyond.

“My hope is that the course becomes a way for students to learn really valuable information that then they are motivated to share with others to hopefully help people lead the best life that they can live,” Dr. Landry said. 

– Morgan Johnson, Staff Writer

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