YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

At Grace Lutheran School, students discover science produces tasty results


Staff Writer

When Grace Lutheran School teacher Lonnie Mendenhall teaches science, math, geometry and all that good stuff to his seventh- and eighth-grade students, they end up having their cake and eating it too — tamales, hot pockets, macaroni and cheese and brownies as well.

All last week Mendenhall's students were busy at their El Centro campus constructing a variety of solar ovens with some interesting results — most of them deliciously edible.

"I saved this project for the end of the year because it culminates and puts together a lot of what they have learned in science and math during the school year," Mendenhall said.


The teacher with a passion for hands-on learning explained further, "When they combine it all together they can see why they have to learn about cutting angles, circumference, radius; when they put it all together now they can see by the end result that math is in everything."

By the week's end Mendenhall's combined class of 19 students had constructed an impressive array of ovens that now lined the ramp leading to their classroom door.

Describing a serendipitous turn in the classroom project, Mendenhall explained that a "major construction mistake" on the students' part when constructing one oven led to a "modified" version that actually worked more efficiently.

As students vied good-naturedly for their share of a batch of brownies fresh from the "sun," 13-year-old eighth-grader Michael Goldsmith exclaimed with more than a hint of surprise, "This tastes a lot better than microwave cooking!"

And the learning wasn't just confined to the classroom. Last weekend Mendenhall took his students to San Felipe in Baja California to see for themselves a solar-powered home constructed entirely of hay bales, a windmill generator and other environment-friendly science at the El Dorado guest ranch.

The ranch boasts the first hay bale house in Baja.

>>Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles