Science with a treat

East Elementary students build their own solar-powered ovens

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East Elementary School students construct solar-powered ovens as they learn about solar energy and make some decision s’mores in the process. (Photo courtesy of Cullman City Schools)


CULLMAN, Ala. – The best science experiments are the ones where kids retain an important lesson. Doing that while also making a delicious treat? Even better.

East Elementary School fourth grade teacher April Dean has spent the week teaching her students how to create their own solar-powered ovens made from recycled cardboard boxes lined with aluminum foil. From there, they cover the contraption with clear plastic wrap — with chocolate s’mores tucked inside.

“We will set the ovens out in the sun for an hour until the chocolate melts,” Dean explained. “The kids can’t wait!  Whenever we can blend science with food, it’s a win-win for everyone.”

The solar-powered ovens are part of the science standards curriculum teaching students how to design a device that changes energy from one form to another. In this case, they’re changing light to heat. Students are also leaning about examples of renewable energy, which in this case, is the solar energy “powering” their ovens.  

“I have a very hands-on approach to science because that’s truly how students can best experience science for themselves,” Dean said. “I don’t believe in traditional homework, but my students’ ‘homework’ each night is to explain to their parents, siblings or pet what we are learning in science class. If they can teach it to someone else, then that means they know it. I can’t wait to see how my scientists go on to change the world as they grow up.”

East Elementary School students construct solar-powered ovens as they learn about solar energy and make some decision s’mores in the process. (Photo courtesy of Cullman City Schools)