Silver Lake Elementary Food Truck Park Experience

food trucks You can find food trucks everywhere now: Austin, Dallas, Downtown Fort Worth, and Silver Lake Elementary?

That’s right! For one afternoon only, Silver Lake Elementary (SLE) fifth-graders hosted the ‘Food Truck Experience’. District officials helped judge the food and overall presentation, awarding People’s Choice and Overall Winner to the All Around the USA Food Truck. Healthy 5 came in second and La Liga and Healthy Victories finished in third.

This project was developed through a collaboration of music teacher Ellena Lee, physical education (P.E.) coach Cynnara Bivin, and art teacher Marissa Salinas-Alvarado. The three teachers wanted to create a project that incorporated all of their classes for several years. The original concept was the have the students run a restaurant, but the teachers were worried about that being too big of a project.

“I have a friend who owns a food truck and was going to talk to the students about menu development, and that was the first time food trucks were mentioned,” Bivin said.

For the project, students were divided into groups of five or six and assigned jobs including general manager, chef and artwork and advertising managers.

To satisfy the P.E. curriculum, students were asked to research healthy meal choices and create a menu for their truck. The fifth-graders used ChooseMyPlate.org to research and plan their meals. They were responsible for finding out the nutritional information and calories of every meal they wanted to offer on their truck.

“Our students offered a wide-variety of menu items,,” Bivin said. “There are quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches, fruits, baked potatoes, salads, and even some Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) and ratatouille.”

Students designed their food trucks in art class, using foam construction boards to create the “truck”. Alvarado attached stands to the backs of all the trucks, so they could stand freely. Since SLE is 1:1, the students used apps on their iPads to design their logo menus.

The final piece of the project was composing a jingle and writing a TV commercial. In music class, the budding entrepreneurs recorded their jingles using music editing software, and then filmed and edited their commercials using video editing software.

All three teachers have noticed how well their students have responded to the challenges presented throughout the project.

“They really took to this experience and ran with it,” Bivins said. “The fact that it is theirs gives them so much ownership and pride. It’s also been interesting to watch them collaborate and capitalize on each others strengths.”

The teachers are hopeful that this project gives their students a taste of how to collaborate in a real-life work situation, which aligns with the goals of the district’s Portrait of a Graduate.

“The food truck project has benefitted me more than I imagined,” said fifth-grader Keller Shamburger. “For example, I now know some of the things I have to do to start a small business and how to put ourselves in positions to succeed. I'm happy that we have this opportunity to be in the experience design program.”

Principal Dr. Shannon Cole believes this project is the perfect example of what Experience Design is all about.

“Through this intentional experience students had the opportunity to walk in the shoes of numerous professionals as they built their plan and product line,” Dr. Cole said. “Our teachers are committed to looking ahead in the curriculum and are intentional about weaving multiple concepts through real life experiences that can be related back to their learning objective in the classroom.”