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Piccowaxen Middle School students learn s’more about solar energy

You know it’s going to be a fun day in eighth-grade science class when there’s a pile of pizza boxes in the corner and your teacher tells you to grab your s’more supplies.

The students in Victoria Farrell’s class at Piccowaxen Middle School weren’t indulging in junk food, they were studying thermal energy by gathering materials for a theoretical trip to the moon. Without an atmosphere, climate or weather, the moon is an ideal place to gather solar energy. It always exposed to sunlight outside of a rare lunar eclipse and if the students could lasso that energy, it would power almost everything that needed it.

With a pizza box, aluminum foil, thermometer, a lamp with a 100-watt bulb and a handful of other materials, teams of students designed and constructed a solar box cooker. If they designed it correctly, the students’ ovens should reflect and concentrate the lamplight. The light will be converted to heat which will be trapped inside the box. This should warm a s’more enough to melt the chocolate and soften the marshmallow. The temperature inside the box must increase by 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) in 10 minutes to achieve success.

“It was really fun,” Kiley Grollman, an eighth-grade student, said. “It’s something we don’t have to do all the time. We never really have to do it.”

Some communities regularly use solar cookers, including some countries that have ideal conditions for operating solar ovens. Such ovens can be used to cook food and pasteurize water that is safe to drink. Solar cookers use free, renewable energy and don’t add to pollution.

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,598 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

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