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Supermarket Science:
The King Sooper Lab

(The name of your lab should reflect the name of the supermarket that your students visit!)

By Beth Susan Drake

Type of Entry:

  • Lesson/Class Activity

Type of Activity:

  • Hands-on Activity
  • Inquiry Lab
  • Group/Cooperative Learning activity
  • Community/Off-site Activity
  • Review/Reinforcement Activity

Target Audience:

  • Biology I (General Biology or Anatomy/Physiology)
  • Life Science

Notes to Teacher:

Check travel time between your school and the nearest supermarket willing to assist with your activity. Call ahead and speak to the daytime manager. Be sure that he or she understands the nature of your visit. Finally, it's a good idea to follow your v isit with a nice thank you note written on school letterhead.

Preparation Needed:

  • Call Supermarket
  • Warn students to wear comfortable shoes
  • Obtain and distribute necessary permission forms
  • Copy laboratory data forms (1 per student)

Class-Time needed:

  • 45 min-1 hour


The "King Sooper Lab" is an investigation that is carried out at the local grocery store. Students walk together to the local King Sooper Supermarket store, where they gather information on various food items. In order to complete the lab study, student s fill out a brightly colored form (that helps to identify them as visiting students to the Supermarket staff). Successful completion of the form requires that students read product labels, compare fat, sodium, and sugar contents of various food items, and then make judgments regarding the comparative "healthiness" of the available items. The students work with a partner and often employ the assistance of the deli and bakery managers. They share information with each other and may even consult with cur rent shoppers. Students later return to the classroom, armed with an abundance of practical nutritional information. In follow-up/extension activities, students use their data forms to assist them in developing sample diets (that would follow the nutrit ional recommendations for persons with high CD risk or for persons suffering from cardiovascular disease).


Students need background information re. basic anatomy of the heart and should know the basics of cardiovascular physiology and CD (cardiovascular disease). They will need instruction in reading and interpreting food labels and should have a general und erstanding of the association between diet and CD, as well as the association between high blood pressure and increased risk of CD.


Materials Needed:

Supermarket Laboratory Data Sheets (1 per student), preferably copied onto brightly colored paper. Laboratory data sheet samples on the following page. I use a 4 page version to allow students to collect adequate information.

Background Information/Readings can be obtained free of from your local chapter of the American Heart Association.

Activity Students (prior to background instruction), walk to local supermarket. They read product labels and complete data information forms.

The King Sooper Lab!

Scenario: Your doctor has just told you that you MUST change your diet. This is your first trip to the supermarket since your visit to the doctor this morning. You must investigate your options to find out what you can and should eat from now on. You are hungry (not a good condition in which to shop for food), so you must work quickly!

1. Go to the cereal aisle and find 5 cereals that you think are healthy foods (low in fat, calories and sodium). Record the label information below.

Cereals 1st Ingredient 2nd Ingredient 3rd Ingredient Sodium (mg) Sugar (mg)

2. Now find 5 cereals that are probably unhealthy foods. Give the same information that you put into the above chart. Compare your choices from the two cereal tables.

Cereals 1st Ingredient 2nd Ingredient 3rd Ingredient Sodium (mg) Sugar (mg)

3. Were you pretty much "on target" with your guesses regarding contents of cereals?________ Explain.

4. Now go to the bread section. Find 5 breads that you think would be good for you and fill in label information on the chart below.

   Breads   Brand of Bread     Type of Bread    Price Per Loaf    1st Indredient     2nd Ingredient  

5. Imagine that you frequently eat the foods listed on the chart below. Your current condition requires that you find healthier foods to replace your usual unhealthy choices.

For the foods listed below, find a healthier alternative and place the name of the healthier choice and the information about the alternative on the chart.

Food Type      Instead buy         1st Ingredient       2nd Ingredient   
Whole Milk      
Whole Milk Cheese      
Land-o-Lakes butter      
Dreyers Ice Cream      
Lay's Potato Chips      
Captain Crunch      
Saltine Crackers      
T-Bone Steak      
Wonder Bread      

Method of Assessment/Evaluation

Information data forms should be graded for completion and Follow-up/Extension Activity (development of sample diet), should be graded for accuracy and practicality.

Extension/Reinforcement/Additional Ideas

Using the information data forms (and recorded product data), and previously learned basic nutritional guidelines for good eating, students should develop a 3 day (sample), diet. The diet should be one that the student would be willing to follow, and the diet should be one that addresses the needs/concerns of a patient at high risk for CD or a current CD patient.

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