MacGyvers in the making: Gwinnett hosts solar science competition this Saturday

This was our first solar oven testing this week. All the different oven types were set out to heat up.

This was our first solar oven testing this week. All the different oven types were set out to heat up.

Our team was making the fruit shish kabobs in this photo. Notice the gloves they were using for food safety. The ovens were heating at about 150 degrees durign the week. I believe anything below 125 is not considered safe cooking.

Our team was making the fruit Shish kabobs in this photo. Notice the gloves they were using for food safety. The ovens were heating at about 150 degrees during the week. I believe anything below 125 is not considered safe cooking.

The shrimp on the barbie! The shallow box seems to be helping to keep up the oven's temperature. There's less area to heat. Also the Saran Wrap, while not attractive, is effective at helpign to keep the heat from escaping uder the glass. It's a lot like a Crock Pot. You lose heat every time you open it.

The shrimp on the barbie! The shallow box seems to be helping to keep up the oven's temperature. There is less area to heat. Also the Saran Wrap, while not attractive, is effective at helping to keep the heat from escaping under the glass. It's a lot like a Crock Pot. You lose heat every time you open it.

Duct tape, cardboard boxes, recycled glass and a whole lot of tin foil – what’s that make? A solar oven for a third grader!

For the first time-ever Gwinnett County is hosting the FLARE (Focus on Leadership and Advancement in Renewable Energy) science competition. It takes place this Saturday at the school district’s Instructional Support Center (ISC), 437 Old Peachtree Rd. NW in Suwanee. The kids start setting up at 9 a.m. but I would come around 10 or 11 to see all the inventions. The little kids are working on solar ovens but the middle and high school students have been challenged to design solar and hydrogen cars! (I have no idea how they are doing that!)

It has been amazing process watching 9-year-olds prepare and figure out how exactly to harness the sun’s energy. They’ve tried out roofing shingles, black tape, black paint, magnifying glasses, with pots, without pots, Saran Wrap and a boatload of tin foil trying to create efficient cooking machines. They’ve exploded thermometers and learned about food safety!

Plus, they’ve had to design recipes that would cook fast, be nutritious and be tasty! They are actually going to be judged on taste! We’ll just be thrilled if it cooks all the way through.

Rose’s group decided on a tropical theme and is making citrus grilled shrimp and grilled fruit kabobs. Another team of Indian girls is making an Indian dish from a grain similar to grits. The boy’s team in our class is making a chicken dish wrapped in a pastry.

We’ve had two test days this week at the school. So far our shrimp has gotten red and shrank down but wasn’t quite done. The forecast for tomorrow is cloudy with a 40 percent chance of rain. We are worried but it will be exciting to see if the kids can overcome the weather!

Come out on Saturday and marvel at their brains. Like my Dad said, we built solar ovens – in college!

14 comments Add your comment

[...] (Third post for the day and I’m done!!!! Gwinnett County is hosting a solar science competitio… [...]

catlady

May 15th, 2010
10:06 am

Now we know what Teresa has been doing!

irisheyes

May 15th, 2010
8:23 pm

Interesting divide between the haves and have-nots at GCPS. I didn’t hear anything about this at our school.

Fred

May 15th, 2010
9:26 pm

Nice. Glad I didn’t quit after your Huffington post lol.

It’s amazing what kids are learning about now and at what a young age. Those solar oven are cooler than Eskimo poop. I laugh at the gloves for food safety lol but in today’s world it is what it is.

While not quite a tree hugger, I think that that anything we can do to educate and learn about keeping our environment safe is great. It amazes me what my 8 year old brings home in ideas from school. Like you said, we did stuff like this in COLLEGE. oh wait, no we didn’t we weren’t even concerned about solar energy and being green. We were ignorant. We have since learned and are no longer ignorant and it’s nice to see our kids learning it as well.

@irisheyes: Then become involved in your school. If your school is nothing more than a daycare center for you, then you have gotten what you deserve. You have gotten out of it what you put into it. And don’t EVEN come back at me with that stupid assed sacred cow “single mom” crap. I am SO tired of the standards of our country being lowered because females choose crappy guys to screw and don’t use birth control…………….

irisheyes

May 15th, 2010
11:26 pm

Actually, Fred, I’m a teacher at my school. That’s why I was really surprised that I didn’t hear anything. And I’m not a single mom, so I don’t know where you got that from. Somebody seriously needs to take some Valium.

Jerk.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 16th, 2010
11:19 am

Catlady — you are right — I was at the school about 11.5 hours last week working with the kids on this project. The baby was picking flowers in the grass next to the black top.

irisheyes — it was the first year and our principal made it a priority. The teachers had to spend a lot of time on it so maybe your principal didn’t feel they had the resources to devote. We only had two teachers take it on and then our science specialist did show up on the competition day as well. It took a lot of teacher time.

catlady

May 16th, 2010
11:25 am

Good for you, Teresa! Wish we had parents like you. Our school runs on the volunteering of 3 people (630 students). We have about 10 parents who show up for PTA on a GOOD night.

Is your school racially diverse? I notice that all the kids in the pictures are white, but of course these may just be Rose’s friends? However, I am always struck when I see only one race in photos like these.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 16th, 2010
4:05 pm

Catlady — Our school is actually very diverse which we love!!!! there was another whole team of just Indian girls in their class. The third team had an African-American and Muslim boy (not sure which country his parents are from) and they are all lovely, lovely children. My parents have commented that the children’s birthday parties always look like UN meetings because their friends are so mixed. We love that!!

whatever

May 16th, 2010
4:28 pm

**I was at the school about 11.5 hours last week working with the kids on this project**

I like that, “ABOUT…11.5″, not that I counted but I was there 11.5 hours, not 10 or a dozen or so, but 11.5. yea for me, cant wait to take pictures and post them and tell everybody about my 11.5 hours at my kids school!, I mean my kid’s ethnically diverse school!

hlb

May 17th, 2010
6:47 am

Catlady – The school Teresa’s children attend is the least diverse and most affluent of the 4 elementary schools in her (edited) cluster.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

May 17th, 2010
11:44 am

actually just got the stats today — 54 percent white – that means 46 percent not white — that’s pretty mixed.

hlb

May 17th, 2010
12:29 pm

Have you looked at the stats compared other schools? (edited) Yes it is more diverse than say, 20 years ago, but so is Gwinnett as a whole.

It does look like the kids had fun and I hope my daughter’s school will participate is something similar next year.

Momof4

May 17th, 2010
1:39 pm

That is definitely more diverse than when TWG and I graduated.

I love the idea of the solar oven project. I think that’s a great project that my kids will enjoy. If the school isn’t interested in doing it, we’ll try it at home. All the guys love to build things and they love to cook.

Krist Snow

August 18th, 2010
4:01 am

It’s about time that someone put some renewable energy education into the elementary schools. Hip, Hip, Hooray for this school.

Many new renewable products are on their way and getting talented young minds into the game is vital to creating a new world with clean renewable energy. One good site to understand the basics of passive and active solar design is http://www.solarhome.ws

Two very simple projects, I have seen are solar stills to create purified water and putting water in plastic bottles and letting the sun come throug and purify it.