In this project, students learn about solar energy by designing a solar oven as a solution to a real world problem that they feel connected to.
Problem worth solving: The World Health Organization says that every year more than 3.4 million people die as a result of water related diseases, making it the leading cause of disease and death around the world. Most of the victims are young children, the vast majority of whom die of illnesses caused by organisms that thrive in water sources contaminated by raw sewage.
Design challenge: Design a solar cooker that will heat water to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature that is needed to pasteurize, or destroy, the microorganisms that cause diseases from drinking contaminated water.
Core topics: Energy, heat transfer, conduction, convection, reflection, engineering, prototyping
Time it takes to implement: 5 sessions
Materials: A wide variety of materials will be available to encourage students to come up with unique designs. Students should be invited to bring materials from home, with limitations as needed. Not all of the following are needed, but some suggested materials: Pipe cleaners, tin foil, cardboard, cardboard boxes, foam core, black construction paper, bubble wrap, clear plastic bags, plastic wrap, rubber bands, small umbrella hats, car reflectors, magnifier sheet, thermometers, photovoltaic cells, post its, and marshmallows.
Next Generation Science Standards
Science and Engineering Practices
MS-ETS1-1: Asking Questions and Defining Problems
MS-ETS1-4: Developing and Using Models
MS-ETS1-3: Analyzing and Interpreting Data
MS-ETS1-2: Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Disciplinary Core Ideas
ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution