The kindergarten class learned how to make a solar oven this week and as you will see, the process was at least as interesting as the end result. To kick things off, teacher Audrey Goodwin-Arpin (who readily admits to never having made one before herself!) asked a series of questions to get the students thinking, and followed the online directions given by a sustainable living website. Please note that safety was priority one at all times, although you wouldn’t necessarily know it from the conversation.
Audrey: Here we have some boxes. I’m going to need your help. Who can tell me which box is going to be on the outside?
Kids: That one!!
Audrey: Why do you think this one is outside and this one is inside?
Kids: Because this one’s bigger!
Audrey: Here are our instructions. Who can tell me what the first step is?
Tyler: Take the knife and cut it!
Audrey: Is that something children would do or an adult would do?
Audrey: We can also try with scissors. Which one do you think will work better, knife or scissors?
Aris: I tried it before and the knife works better than the scissors.
Audrey: Why do you think the knife would work better?
Kids: Because it’s sharper!
Audrey: Try using scissors.
Aris: I don’t want to try because I already know the knife is sharper.
Deka: My mom doesn’t let me use scissors because I used them once and I almost cut my finger off.
Aris: I don’t want to do it! I already know!
Deka: I don’t want to cut off my whole finger again!
Zanzi: I can use the big scissors.
Deka: If you make me cut with scissors, my mom is going to kill me!
Jacob: I wish we could keep the cardboard that we got.
Audrey: Let’s check the next picture. What do we need to do?
Kids: Crumple up the paper!
(Crumple, crumple, crumple)
Kids to Carol: Can I have one? Can I have one? Can I have one?
Audrey: We need to make the bottom black, but we are not going to use spray paint. They say in the instructions we can use black paper, too. Why do we put black paper on the bottom?
Deka: When you put black, the sun goes inside the black.
Genoa: Black is a very hot color. It’s the hottest color.
Audrey: Does anyone remember why black is very warm?
Tyler: The sun is not a darker color, so if the sun is light, it breaks the black to make it hotter.
Aris: I think because black is a hot, hot color and dark. Like this kind of dark color (points at pants) makes my legs hot.
Audrey: The color black absorbs the heat. Think about a sponge. If you put a sponge in water, what happens to the sponge?
Kids: It absorbs the water!
Aris: It gets kind of heavy because it has water in it.
Audrey: The color black absorbs heat. It just kind of sucks it in. So that’s why we put black at the bottom. The next step is the tricky one. What do we need to do?
Audrey: We need to find the shiny side of the paper. Is this the shinier side?
Genoa: Because it’s shiny, it’s really absorbent!
Audrey: What do you think we’re going to do now?
After much collaborative gluing, the class ended up with a homemade solar oven. However, because the weather hasn’t been hot enough for it to work for the past several days, they’ve decided to wait and put it to use once things warm up. You’ll be glad to know that every member of the class still has all their fingers and toes and Audrey is happy to provide the website link to any parent or community member interested in creating their own solar oven. But, if that seems like too much work, just ask one of the five year olds. They’ve got it down!