Best lesson: Aussie school students learning about oral health

In 2019 ADA Federal teamed up with SugarByHalf, a not-for-profit independent organisation helping Australians to live healthier lives by reducing their sugar intake and, in turn, sugar-related diseases, to create two series of lessons through Cool Australia, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting teachers with free, high-quality teaching tools, resources and professional development courses. These lessons, which have been available since January 2020, incorporate oral health and nutrition into the mandatory learning requirements of the Australian and New Zealand curriculum.

Lessons include a Year 9/10 science unit comprising four lessons that use the process of remineralisation and

demineralisation to create a new spin on the standard acids, and bases curriculum, which is contextually relevant to students and their health. As well, a four-lesson maths unit was created based on using Nutrition Information Panels on food and drink products to teach multiplication, division, and percentages for Years 5 and 6.

Even with the events of 2020 thus far ranging from bushfires to a global pandemic leading to at-home learning for many Australian students, these lesson plans have been shown to be a successful endeavour that should be continued.

SugarByHalf has developed numerous Cool Australia lessons; of these, eight are in partnership with the ADA,

which have proven to be very popular with Australian educators. In April 2020, it was estimated that the ADA lessons had reached 39,600 students. As of August, the ADA x SugarByHalf maths lesson Multiplication and Menus,was the highest-performing SugarByHalf lesson, receiving a hefty 630 downloads. In fact, the maths lessons make up three of the Top 5 SugarByHalf lessons.

There are fewer downloads for the science lessons compared to the maths lessons but Cool Australia believe this may reflect on the year we’ve had and the inability for many schools to do practical science investigations whilst students have been learning from home, as one third of the traffic for these lessons comes from Victoria. The maths lessons are easier for teachers to adapt to an at-home environment and provide a fantastic set of resources for students to easily use, leading to higher downloads and traffic.

When contacted for comment, Mark Drummond, Head of Education at Cool Australia said: “the Australian Dental Association and SugarByHalf have been key partners in developing healthy eating and healthy lifestyle curriculum resources for teachers. The need for these resources is clear: they’re in high demand by teachers (and parents) during what has been the most difficult year of school in recent memory. We’re very proud to be sharing this knowledge and expertise with teaching communities across Australia and beyond. The funding from the ADA allows us to give these lessons free to teachers, meaning that those in rural and remote communities, or in low socioeconomic areas, have the same access as anyone else. Together, we’re reducing inequality in education and helping our kids live healthy, active lives.”

Due to the success of these lessons, the ADA and SugarByHalf are teaming up again to create more lessons

for Australian children to improve their knowledge of sugar, nutrition, and oral health. Early childhood age groups will form the target for these lessons as the ages of 0 to 4 years are a period in which the foundations for children’s later health and wellbeing are established. During this period, children acquire a vast range of skills and behaviours through their family, social and school environment.

Providing this information during this key period of learning can hopefully lead to improvements in future oral health. The Cool Australia lessons are just one part of the ADA’s strategy and ongoing work to improve the oral health ofthe Australian community.

These lessons are freely accessible from the Cool Australia website. Helpimprove Australian children’s access to fundamental knowledge by promoting these educational materialsto teachers and schools in your local community.

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