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Durham District School Board
Ignite Learning
DDSB Students Explore Solar Power
Scott Central PS win a national solar baking challenge

On their first try, Lead Science Teacher Robyn Hadder and her Grade 7 students at Scott Central PS came in first place in the Green Learning Solar Oven Challenge. It was a national competition with entries from all across Canada. 

For 13 years Green Learning has been dedicated to empowering Canadian youth and developing innovative learning experiences that have a positive effect on the environment and create a sustainable world.

"The Solar Oven Challenge enables students to discover the application of science, technology, and engineering to create solutions like renewable energy technologies that combat some of today's complex environmental issues," shares Jamila Kyari, Communications Manager at Green Learning. "The activity is designed to teach students about solar heat, solar electricity, and other clean energy technologies, but can be modified to incorporate culinary arts, food safety, and culture."  

Hadder says she had planned to focus some of her lessons on solar ovens with her Grade 7 class because it fit into the heat and environment curriculum. Even though Green Learning provided a template for the challenge, Hadder decided to take a risk and do the project her way. It worked out.

"All of my students made individual and unique designs, so it wasn't like we followed one template. They came up with their own. They did some research," Hadder explains. "It was more of an inquiry-based project where they had to figure out what is a solar oven, how does a solar oven work, what were they going to use as materials to make the solar oven. So it was all sort of driven by the students."

After the solar ovens were created, they had to decide what to bake. The Scott Central team wanted to connect this project to First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures. They made bannock, a traditional First Nations bread. They also didn't want to bake anything too simple, so the bannock was a great choice.

Baking time

May 24th was a bright, sunny day, perfect for baking bannock. The students took their solar ovens and bannock dough outside to the basketball court. That day the temperature reached a high of 26 degrees and the bread baked for approximately six hours.    

"They didn't necessarily cook all the way through, but some groups' got crispy on the outside and they got some browning on their bannock," Hadder says. "They were actually really excited about that."

She received a call on June 18th, telling her their school came in first in the challenge and won $500. If approved, Hadder would like to do something special for the students who participated, who will be in Grade 8 next year.

She says that her students enjoyed the renewable energy element of their lesson and her hands-on and inquiry-based approach to teaching science.

"A lot of them enjoyed what they were doing. I hope that I've inspired them to take more science when they get to high school and keep going in the fields of green energy and green learning," Hadder expresses. "But, I can only hope and hopefully see that in the future."

Photo 1 – Scott Central PS students (L-R) Madison, Lauren and Maija with the solar oven that they created.
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Photo 2 – The solar ovens on Scott Central's basketball court baking bannock.
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