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Star-powered cooking
Trout Lake students test solar ovens

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 7, 2012

Students at Charles Tetcho School celebrated after combining a science experiment with a pizza party on May 25.

NNSL photo/graphic

Students at Charles Tetcho School in Trout Lake eat pizzas they made using solar ovens on May 25. The students include, from left, front row, Deanna Jumbo, Atanda Kotchea, Edzea Rocque Jumbo, Isaiah Kotchea, Aaron Chonkolay, Adam Lamalice, Aiden Kotchea, Branden Jumbo and Willie Chonkolay, back row, Faith Deneron, Angel Betthale and Katrina Deneron. - photo courtesy of David Madden

The miniature personal pizzas they ate were part of the experiment, cooked in ovens powered by the sun.

"It tasted good," said Branden Jumbo about his pizza.

Teresa Chilkowich, with the Arctic Energy Alliance, introduced Jumbo and his classmates to cooking with the sun on May 3 by building solar ovens with them. Working in groups, the students covered the inside surfaces and flaps of a cardboard box to create their oven. The students then took a smaller box, painted it black, filled it with shredded paper as an insulator and covered it with a clear plastic screen to form the cooking chamber.

Jumbo, 11, who had never built a solar oven before said the whole process was pretty easy.

"It was fun," he said.

Like any good scientists, the students tested their creations. During a trial run using just a thermometer to track the temperature the students found they were losing a lot of heat because their cooking chambers weren't sealed, said teacher David Madden. The students went back and improved their designs before the cooking day.

On May 25 each student made a small pizza using half a hamburger bun, pizza sauce and shredded cheese. The creations were placed in the cooking chambers that were nestled into the solar ovens and then left outdoors in the sun for approximately 20 minutes.

Jumbo said he was surprised by what he found when he opened his oven up.

"The cheese was all melted," he said.

Thermometers revealed that the four ovens had reached temperatures of 220 F. Jumbo said that it was a neat experiment that he would like to try again.

Aaron Chonkolay, 10, was also impressed by the results.

"They're cool," he said about the ovens.

Chonkolay said he didn't think the cheese would melt on his pizza but it did. Chonkolay said for the next experiment he'd like to try making cookies in the solar ovens.

The students enjoyed the experiment and the resulting pizza party, said Madden.

The solar ovens were part of a sun safety unit that included making artwork with photo-sensitive paper and bracelets with beads that changed colours in the sunlight.

The activities showed the students how the sun can affect things, including people, and, therefore, the importance of being sun safe and wearing sunscreen, he said.

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