Children learn the value of alternative proteins during Junior Science Lab

Published on
June 9, 2022

During the Junior Science Lab ‘Adventurous Proteins’, children in groups six and seven learn why alternative proteins are essential for the food chain, but they also learn how to cook with tempeh and other protein-rich alternatives. And they set the world record in ‘cooking with kids.’

Over two hundred children from senior years gathered in Wageningen Campus’ newest building, Omnia, on 8 June to learn all about alternative proteins. Why do scientists research proteins? Proteins are essential building blocks for our bodies that we currently often obtain from meat and eggs, which require a great number of natural resources.

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) scientists study ways to sustainably produce meat and eggs but also seek replacements. This is important for the protein transition. During the Junior Science Lab, children learned about two protein alternatives: walnuts and chickpeas. Both are chockful of this crucial building block.

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Tasting with eyes, ears and fingers

Louise Fresco, president of WUR, welcomed the children. ‘If you remember one thing from today, ‘she said, ‘it should be the fact that everyone needs proteins every day. Not just us humans, but also cockroaches, cats, elephants and Guinea pigs.’ Young volunteers literally discovered the day’s adventurous proteins through a ‘feeling box’, where they felt the products without seeing them. And during a kids’ lecture, presented by scientists Machiel Reinders and Maaike Nieuwland, the seniors discovered that you taste not only with your tongue but also with your eyes, ears and fingers.

Together with teacher training students, the children went on to process the alternative proteins in a pokébowl. Thus, the Junior Science Lab made an attempt at the world record for the largest number of kids cooking simultaneously. And succeeded! One hundred ninety-nine children cooked a bowl with, for example, tempeh at the same time. And of course, everyone could then taste the dish in the traditional way, by taking a bite.

Omnia dialogue centre

Having over two hundred children gather to learn about alternative proteins was possible thanks to Wageningen Campus’ newest building: Omnia Dialogue Centre. WUR aims to use Omnia as a location for dialogues on societal issues in the agrifood sector. By engaging in dialogue, solutions to the global issues WUR faces are brought closer. Omnia, where science meets society.