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 firstname.lastname@example.org