I am blessed to work with resilient, curious, passionate, and insightful students who bring so much energy to the classroom. My students amaze me every day with their questions, thoughts, and work. Since we are a Title I school, my students face numerous challenges outside the classroom. Over half of our students are English language learners and even more students receive free or reduced-price lunch.
Our school is dedicated to sharing a rigorous, high-quality education that teaches our students the beauty of interdisciplinary, lifelong learning.
Every year students participate in Signature Projects asking them to take a stand on dire social and environmental issues. They become agents of change in their community and feel empowered to change the world for the better.
In my science courses, students spend the majority of the year designing and running their own experiments to gain a better understanding of the world. They inspire me with their creativity and love of learning.
According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly three billion people worldwide spend equal amounts on food as they do on fuel needed to cook. Many spend a full work week’s worth of time gathering wood to tend their fires. Not only does this cause a tremendous burden on these individuals, it also aggravates scarce natural resources and destroys precious habitats. The smoke from wood-based fires contributes to increased incidence of cancer and lung diseases.
Solar cooking is an amazing alternative- it alleviates the need for cooking fuels, saves dozens of hours of back-breaking work, aids the environment, provides a simple way to purify water, and allows for warm meals to be prepared without constant monitoring.
Solar ovens work by using sunlight as an alternative “fuel” for cooking. Sunlight is converted into thermal energy and trapped in the oven for cooking. When high energy photons (light) from the sun interact with molecules in a substance (such as the solar cooker or the food to be cooked), the energy transfer causes excitation and vibration, which in turn generates heat. Solar ovens tend to have highly reflective surfaces (e.g., aluminum foil) that will focus light directly onto the food that needs to be prepared. Pots should be dark and shallow to allow the most heat energy to be absorbed. Tight-fitting lids for pots and extra insulation via glass or plastic will help the oven retain more heat.
My Culinary Chemistry students will be learning about solar energy and ovens in preparation for a school CommUNITY day through which they will run interactive, educational oven-building stations for all the students at our school. Teaching students how simple it is to build a solar oven and prepare nutritious meals will hopefully translate to a lifetime passion for helping the environment!
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