MICHIGAN CITY — Nearly 50 Krueger Middle School students recently constructed solar ovens in a challenge that could net them some hefty prizes once those ovens are put to the test.

The oven temperature that raises the most degrees Fahrenheit after sitting in the sun for two hours will be deemed the winner.

A $60 gift card will be awarded to the first-place team, $40 gift card to the second-place team and $20 gift card to the third place team. And the three winning teams will be featured at the Krueger Energy Fair on Thursday.

Each team received the same materials for the creation of their solar ovens: 3 feet of heavy duty aluminum foil, one pizza box, one turkey roaster bag, two sheets of black construction paper and a paper plate. They were allowed to use tape, glue, scissors, markers and other school supplies to make modifications to their ovens.

Kate Triemstra, seventh-grade science teacher at Krueger, introduced the Solar Oven Challenge as an extracurricular activity after she wrote and won the Energizing Student Potential grant, which covered the cost of the supplies.

“It’s important to be able to provide students with opportunities to improve upon and modify things, and to express their creativity as it relates to STEM because that’s what they’re going to be using in their adult lives,” Triemstra said.

Seventh-grader Makalinn Jenks said she wasn’t interested in participating initially, but joined after she was encouraged by a friend, and is happy she did.

“I didn’t think I could do this at first,” Jenks said, “but I figured out how to make the sun project perfectly to make heat collect in the box. I don’t like everything about science, but I liked this project; and I think it’s pretty cool that I was able to do this.”

Bryshawn Lockett, also in seventh grade, said, “I enjoyed putting my mind to work. I didn’t even know you could make these, so when I found out, I was interested in trying.”

In addition to funding the cost of the solar oven supplies, the Energizing Student Potential grant also funded professional development for two teachers, a monitoring and mentoring kit, science and energy kit, oil and gas kit, science supplies and prizes for the energy fair.

The Krueger Energy Fair will be Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the school cafeteria; and will feature energy and conservation exhibits, carnival games, refreshments and more.

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