The University of Kentucky Department of Nutrition and Food Science recently opened a new demonstration lab to enhance the department's educational offerings for students, Cooperative Extension staff and Kentucky residents.

"We wanted to provide a state-of-the-art facility for our students," said Janet Kurzynske, department chair. "In addition, in a time of tight budgets, it gives us an opportunity for cost and time savings for extension personnel because our specialists can reach a larger audience with reduced travel by utilizing the video conferencing system."

The new lab features many updates from the department's previous demonstration lab including a video conferencing system with the ability to connect and broadcast information to as many as four different locations. A document camera provides close-up views of the activities on the demonstration table. Camera images are broadcast in the lab on two large plasma screens and at remote locations allowing those in the room and across the state to see the details of a presentation. Also, the video conferencing system can broadcast documents, video clips and slides that accompany the demonstration and allows for interaction with participants at remote sites.

Also, the lab features a new stainless steel demonstration table with storage compartments so all ingredients or materials are readily available and easily accessible to the presenter. A new sensory lab is adjacent to the demonstration lab and will provide opportunities for taste testing.

Four food-related classes and one counseling class will have the opportunity to use this lab to enhance the students' educational experience. Researchers within the department are interested in using the lab to present educational demonstrations to remote community groups. Extension specialists will use the lab to provide educational training to agents and nutrition education paraprofessionals across the state. In addition, the lab is available to other family and consumer sciences extension specialists and other departments in the School of Human Environmental Sciences.