Originally published in The Nugget News, October 11, 2016
by: Erin Borla
Fourth-graders at Sisters Elementary School in Mrs. Parsons’ and Mr. Warburton’s classes ended their four-week study of energy with a tasty project. Students in each class attempted to harness the energy of the sun by creating solar ovens and making s’mores.
“I loved it,” said Kaden Crabb. “It was so much fun. I want to do that kind of stuff for a job.”
Students used items from the recycle bin to create their ovens. They were creative and used things like cardboard boxes, plastic wrap, spray paint, and aluminum foil. Students put ovens together at home and brought them to school last week.
“There was no limit on what the students could create,” says teacher Katie Parsons. “We left it open and showed a bunch of ideas – then they were free to create what they thought would work best.”
Students reported they liked the idea of creating models from scratch.
“I liked it because you had to be really creative and I like to be really creative,” said Tyler Blake. “You had to think how to trap the heat and try to make it super hot to roast your marshmallow.”
The project this year has been unique. Teachers had their students test their ovens three different times before the final “s’more test.” They then took the data from their test findings and modified their original design and made adjustments based on their findings.
“I like that we got to test our oven and modify them so we got an idea of how our ovens will do (for the final project),” said student Etienne Sartelle.
After all the modifications were complete the test began. Oven temperatures varied from 90-160 degrees.
“I thought it was a great project,” said Jordyn Monaghan. “My oven only reached 90 degrees – but my marshmallow was delicious.”
As with any science experiment there can be failures.
“Kids can get really bummed when their solar oven doesn’t work,” said Parsons. “I always tell the students, that’s the best data you can have as a scientist, when something fails. We celebrate the failures and talk about what we can do differently to fix the problem.
“No one is going to make a perfect solar oven the first time,” she said.
Students enjoyed the project regardless of their final outcome. Many noted that they loved being creative as a scientist.
Kayla Root said, “It was really fun and cool, but the part I really liked was getting to be a scientist. Then, of course, the s’mores. The s’mores were amazing and I got to share them with my friends because their (oven) was too cold.”
“I thought that the solar ovens were a new experience for me but it was super fun,” said Holly Madron. “My dream of becoming a scientist is coming true.”