Parkside Elementary students eating up solar science project

Sep 2 2010 - 11:48pm

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Skylee Kehr, 8, eats her solar-baked s'more at Parkside Elementary after a class project building solar ovens.
Skylee Kehr, 8, eats her solar-baked s'more at Parkside Elementary after a class project building solar ovens.

CLINTON -- It was just nine days into the new school year and students were already doing a hands-on science project in Laura Harris's third-grade class at Parkside Elementary School.

At the end of the school day Thursday, many students had chocolate and marshmallow on their faces and fingers, evidence their solar ovens indeed did work.

The students not only cooked in their solar ovens, they constructed them from pizza boxes and newspapers. They added a window of transparency film, and some foil to reflect the sun's rays for heat.

As they worked on the project the day before using the ovens, student Carolyn Lowman said, "It is really fun. You can actually cook in it."

And what they cooked Thursday was s'mores.

They put two graham crackers with a marshmallow and small chocolate bar into each oven before heading out to the playground, where they placed the ovens on the blacktop to collect the heat from the sun.

Thermometers placed inside the ovens were read as soon as the ovens were set on the ground. About 10 minutes later, students took a second reading from the thermometer. The third reading came after about 25 minutes, when most of the chocolate and marshmallows were melted.

Each student recorded their findings, including the temperature readings, in their science notebooks.

Carolyn wore a tan apron while she cooked.

"My dad let me borrow his special apron," Carolyn said of the Iron Man apron she was wearing.

"I'm wearing a white shirt, and it's one of my favorite shirts. I don't want chocolate to get on it," Carolyn said.

The apron did keep the chocolate from getting on her shirt but not from her hands and fingers.

Some of the marshmallows melted faster than others, but student Hugo Castillo knew why.

"The smaller ones melt faster because they are small," he said.

"The bigger ones take more time to melt."

Students could choose the marshmallow size they wanted to use.

Harris asked the students to check to see if their thermometer reached 190 to 200 degrees.

Ashley Moyano looked closely at her thermometer and found it had reached 195 degrees. It was the highest temperature of all.

"I feel kind of good," Ashley said. "I kind of aimed it toward the sun."

Ashley said it was great to cook in the oven but it was really fun eating the s'more.

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