Published : Monday, November 6, 2017 | 1:22 PM
As the middle of the semester continues forward, students are being introduced to several new concepts surrounding STEM, or the academic characteristics of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Southwestern adds arts
and English with reading classes to today’s emphasis on just “STEM”, combining all into “STEAMER”. With this in mind, one of our Southwestern Academy science teachers, Ms. Michele Russo, has begun to explore the ability to harness the suns energy by using a Solar Balloon Energy Kit.
This “solar oven” uses the suns heat to do a variety of tasks including: boiling water for cooking rice, pasta, or for boiling eggs, as well as the ability to bake foods such as biscuits. The oven is easy to use, harnesses the suns energy well, easy to clean, and folds into any small bag; backpackers, campers, and those who enjoy hiking will find it to be uniquely convenient. Just using the solar oven and the heat of the day, Ms. Russo’s classes attempted to bake biscuits on two separate days.
Ms. Russo explains, “Initially we set it up, we learned how to use it, and we tried to heat water. Then we tried to bake biscuits on a day that was kind of hazy out and they were not successful after 6 hours. We then tried it on a very hot 104 degree day and it did work! They did bake!”
The next step is going to be experimenting with the variations of the outside temperature and darker cookware to determine its effect on the baking time and the heat retention. This solar oven highlights some of the new STEM competencies that are surfacing for math/science classes in harnessing alternative energy sources.
“I’m so glad we gathered the materials for this project because as the students write and illustrate reports, it covers all the “STEAMER” areas.” Ms. Russo states, “The students find it fun and it’s a great way for them to learn about solar energy.”
Southwestern Academy, 2800 Monterey Road, San Marino, (626) 799-5010 or visit www.southwesternacademy.edu.