Sun-cooked wieners for Earth Day

April 21, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH, Staff Writer

There's usually enough "kid energy" at your average elementary school without adding another source of energy into the mix.

But a few weeks back teacher Bob Holzman got to thinking about how he would like to celebrate Earth Day with the students at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in El Centro on Friday and that's when that extra source of energy — the sun — was invited on board for the day.

"I remembered that about 20 years ago I made one of those solar ovens you construct from a shoe box and I thought that would be a great idea for the kids for Earth Day, if they each made a solar oven and cooked a hot dog in it."

That would explain the some 200 shoe boxes stashed at various points around Washington Elementary in the days leading up to Earth Day — in Holzman's classroom, in the teachers' lounge and even in an obliging fellow teacher's minivan. With help from local solar energy expert Michael Gohl of The Sun Works company, the entire student body was hard at work Friday morning cooking up a storm with their "Solar Weanie Roast."


Seven-year-old Angel Beltran, a first-grader at Washington, sat patiently waiting for his hot dog to cook and, although he seemed somewhat dubious as to how his hot dog was going to taste, he was enthusiastic about Earth Day.

"Earth Day is good because it helps to keep the earth clean and it keeps the earth healthy," he said.

Gohl, surrounded by a bunch of enthusiastic first-graders, said, "I love being part of things like this. We've had lots of kids come out to our shop in Niland and we show them our portable sun ovens and the Fresno lens with which they can set paper alight and I give them a ride in my solar-powered golf cart — kids love all this stuff."

By the way, the hot dogs all cooked and then the kids all ate, so all was well.

And as a heads-up to those adults who may not know, Gohl says the Imperial Irrigation District, in conjunction with the Californian energy rebate program, offers sizable rebates for consumers who participate in energy-conservation programs.

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