Middle school students learned about civics, science and a host of other subjects while making solar powered stoves.
At Hamlin Middle School, sixth graders had a challenge – make water boil without using electricity.
Their science teacher, Jeffrey Thompson, provided a short list of materials. With these items, the students were to design solar cookers that could bring a beaker of water to full boil using only energy from the sun.
Students had a choice of six designs on which to base prototypes. Each class split into small groups to decide which design would work best, while remaining lightweight.
Thompson asked students to think about how black construction paper might fit in their designs, increasing water temperature by retaining heat. He also stressed the importance of shapes and sizes.
The designs varied. Some students had massive boxes with an open design, and others had circles, pyramids, and parabolic structures.
“We want the sunlight to bounce back and forth off of the foil, and the heat will be absorbed into the black paper,” said eleven-year-old Ashley Gray. She pointed to the construction paper that was to line the inside of the prototype.
Each sixth graders is building a solar cooker as a STEAM project integrating all core classes in science, technology, engineering, art and math.