Freshmen designers to perfect solar cookers in annual activity

By Joshua Papaqui, Staff Writer

The Verbum Dei science class will be having its fourth solar cooker maker activity for freshmen. Carolyn Westdal, Chair of the Science Department, has facilitated a solar cooker design activity for the freshman Physical Science class since 2016.

Wesdal joined the Verbum Dei faculty as a science teacher for freshman, and she is known for her solar cooking experiment where students engage in the engineering design process to build a working solar oven.

“I really enjoy the project” said Wesdal.  “Physics students have done this project each year for the past four years.  Students utilize everyday materials such as soda cans, paper, cardboard, foil, and plastic wrap to create a device that can “cook” food. It’s a great learning experience for them.”

“It was a lot of fun,” said senior Anthony Ramos.  “We got to use our creativity to make something that actually works.”

These devices uses energy from the sun, traveling in the form of electromagnetic waves, to increase the thermal energy of an object placed in the solar oven.  This project primarily aligns with two physics topics: thermodynamics and waves.  Students learn about methods of heat transfer, specific heat of materials, and the fundamentals of waves through their participation in this project.

This year students will be challenged to design and build their solar ovens using an aluminum soda can as the base of their models.

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