Procurement, Materials, Safety...
by James Wampler
(Shelbyville, Ky. USA)
This week I met with school members to secure space for the student solar ovens. This is difficult to do, since space is always at a premium, and empty supply rooms aren't things that people tend to broadcast.
I was able to discuss what our students are planning to do with the art department, who allowed me access to some of their storage for student projects. The only variable is that I'm not sure how big students would like to plan on going at this stage. I have considered giving them design constraints, but I would really like them to be unbridled in their pursuit of the best possible design. However...a real life lesson is often "what is real is often not what is ideal" -- they might have to make do with a specific oven size.
I have also played around with the possibility of using mylar blankets as a cheap, highly reflective alternative to aluminum foil.
One of the things the other science teacher and I have been considering is giving students a set amount of credits to buy materials, and then having them determine how they want to spend their resources to achieve their goals.
Before becoming a teacher, I was a director for an after-school program for K-8 students. One of the things at the forefront of my mind is the safety/efficiency curve.
I want students to be safe - - I don't want to hand out band-aids for bloody fingers, but at the same time, scissors aren't always the best at cutting cardboard. I imagine we'll spend a good portion of a day primarily on safety training. It is likely that they'll just have to deal with bad cuts on cardboard, because I'm certainly not busting out any box-cutters! I came across this device
...but it seems like it is no longer being made.
I ran into these things, but it looks like they **haven't been made yet** -- time will tell.
Materials for the project are coming in, space is being procured. Progress! Now I'll just continue working on student designs and our classroom website for this project until we start having longer days where I can get some practice in after work...