Can you harness solar energy to cook? With this solar-powered oven you can. It’ll take a little time (so be patient!) but if you direct the sun’s rays carefully onto your food, it will actually cook.
Solar-Powered Oven
3 4 5
Make Your Own
1 2
Trace a square on the lid of your pizza box. The square should be about an inch smaller than the lid. Cut three sides of the square from the top of the pizza box. Leave the fourth side (the side along the back) uncut to form a flap.
Open the box and cover the window you just cut with plastic wrap. Try to tape it as tightly as possible so it’s nice and taut. Line the inside of the box, including the sides, with foil. Also line the inside of the flap you cut with foil. Cover the inside bottom of the box with the black paper, fabric, or paint. This will help absorb the sun’s heat.
Supplies
pizza box scissors plastic wrap (the thicker, the better) tape (don’t use duct tape?it releases toxic fumes) aluminum foil black construction paper, black fabric, or black paint ruler or other object to prop open the top oven thermometer (optional)
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Solar-Powered Oven
1 2
Place your food inside the cooker. You can try using a graham cracker with a marshmallow on top or cheese on a cracker. If you’re using an oven thermometer, go ahead and put that inside your cooker as well. Close the box.
To Cook With Your
3
Check on your box in about half an hour to see how the food is progressing. Depending on the weather, it will take about twice the time to cook than in your regular oven indoors. Food will cook faster in the summer than in the winter.
4
Put your cooker in a spot where it will get direct sunlight (driveways are good). Angle the top of the solar cooker so that the sun reflects off your aluminum-foil-covered lid and into the cooker. You want to make your cooker collect as much sunlight as possible. Use the ruler or other object to prop the lid open at the perfect angle. You may have to use tape to secure it if you have a bit of wind.
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Keep this sundial in your pocket and you’ll always be able to tell the time using shadows cast on the sundial’s small chart.
Pocket Sundial
3
Make Your Own
1 2
Photocopy the sundial chart from the next page. Color the different time periods in different colors to make it easier to read. When you cut it out, be sure to keep the overlapping space on the left side of the chart. You’ll tape the chart over itself on this extra paper. Hammer the nail into the dowel about inch from the end. It shouldn’t go in all the way; it needs to stick out to cast its shadow on the graph.
Supplies
sundial chart colored pencils scissors 4-inch piece of 1-inchdiameter wooden dowel (like from a broomstick) hammer 1-inch nail tape an eye screw string
4
Wrap the chart around the middle of the dowel, and tape it securely to itself?not the dowel. You’ll be turning the graph on the dowel, so it needs to be tight enough that it won’t slip, but loose enough that it will turn. Move the chart up under the nail so it’s just touching. If you want, you can put a thumbtack under the chart so it won’t slip right off the dowel. Screw the eye screw in the top of the dowel, and tie your string to it. Turn the chart so the current month is directly below the nail.
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5 6
With your back to the sun, hold the sundial by the string and move your hand, turning the sundial, until the nail’s shadow is pointing straight at the ground.
7 8
For the very first reading, you’ll need to adjust your sundial. To do this, look at where the shadow falls and read the time on the chart. (Remember: each line represents two different times; if you’re reading your sundial in the morning, use the first time. If it’s afternoon, look at the second time.) Compare this to the time on your watch.
If it’s different, you’ll need to adjust the nail by hammering it in a bit at a time until it’s accurately reflecting the time on your watch. You need to allow for Daylight Savings Time. During Daylight Savings Time add an hour. Otherwise your sundial will reflect the current time. Once the nail is hammered in the right distance, you’re ready to use your pocket sundial.
Photocopy the sundial chart below at 100%.
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Create a natural hideaway using cheerful sunflowers as the walls. Sunflowers are quick-growing and fun to watch as they turn their heads toward the sun.
Sunflower House
Make Your Own
1 2 3 4 5
Find a spot to grow your house that gets direct sunlight. Outline the four walls of your house by digging small trenches. Don’t forget to leave a space for the door! Push the dowels or stakes into the ground in the trenches a foot apart from one another. This will be what your bean plants grow on, so plant the bean seeds close to the dowels.
Plant all of your seeds in the trenches according to the package directions. Try to mix them so that you have a good blend between beans and tall and short flowers. This will ensure you don’t have any irregular gaps in the walls of the house. Spread the mulch or hay on the ground where your floor will be (be careful not to cover your seeds). Or, you can just leave the ground as it is.
Supplies
shovel dowels or planting stakes about five feet long. How many depends on how large your house will be. Plan for about one stake every foot or so.
packets of sunflower seeds: Try to get varieties of sunflowers that grow to different heights so you’ll have solid walls. Some Water your plants regularly. examples are: Lemon Queen When the beans begin to grow, tie (grows up to 8 feet), Autumn them to the stakes to “train” them Beauty (grows 5?6 feet), and to twist their vines up the stakes. When the Dwarf Sunspot (grows up to they reach close to the top, tie string 18 inches)
across the stakes, over your floor area, to create the roof of your house.
bean seeds: use a variety that climbs, such as pole beans. mulch or hay (optional) water
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string
Life
ife is everywhere on Earth. No matter which biome you’re in?blistering desert, frigid tundra, steamy rainforest?you name it, and life is there. Even in the most extreme conditions on the planet?riding the smoking hydrothermal vents under the sea or buried deep inside a glacier?there’s life. It’s one of the things that makes our planet unique in our solar system, and different life forms are a critical part of our environment.
Without one of the three crucial ingredients of water, air, or sun on Earth, life as we know it would not exist here. What’s even more amazing is the diversity of life on our planet. All the creatures aren’t the same?far from it. Each has different defenses, habitats, diet, and communication.
L
on Earth
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Planet Earth
Classifying all the living things on Earth has fascinated scientists over the centuries. Back in the 1700s, scientists felt there were two kingdoms: plants and animals. Later, that expanded to three, then to six, then to a multi-tiered tree as scientists tried to find patterns between the vast differences in organisms. As scientists learn more about unusual forms of life, such as viruses and other microscopic organisms, the kingdoms will undoubtedly change again. Why is it so complicated? It’s like trying to organize everything in your house into a logical list. You’d No one knows for sure have to find things that are similar by definition. But, some how many species of things can cross over into other defined groups. A pair of cotton socks could be grouped with “footwear,” “cotton clothing,” plants and animals there are in the world. or “things that go in pairs,” for example. After classifying an organism into a kingdom, there’s Estimates are just be Scientists break groups of that?educated guesses. still more classifying to intodone. sections, each getting more organisms down further more Some scientists believe and more specific until the particular species is named. there are around 10 One thing they do agree on, though, is that all living million species. Others creatures on Earth interact with each other and depend on estimate there are up each other for survival. Organisms are linked through the to 100 million! food chain, through sharing of a habitat, or symbiosis.
Did You Know?
Words to Know
organisms into broad categories. species: a group of closely related and physically similar organisms. symbiosis: a close relationship between two different organisms in an environment. phylum: a related group descended from a common ancestor.
kingdoms: divisions of living
backbone or spinal column. class: a group with common attributes; a major category in grouping organisms. homeotherm: an organism that can regulate its own body temperature.
vertebrate: organism with a
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Life on Earth
Plants and animals are connected through the food web, but some organisms have another way they interact with each other. Symbiosis is when two different species form a partnership with each other, often with mutually beneficial results?one helps out the other, and the recipient returns the favor. The honeyguide bird eats beeswax and bee larvae, but it can’t tear open a bee’s nest. A ratel, which is a badger-like animal, can, though. The honeyguide spots a nest and flutters around the ratel’s head, getting its attention and leading it to the nest. After the ratel has torn it open and eaten its fill of honey, the honeyguide can have its share, too. But animals aren’t the only ones who can form partnerships. The acacia plant is a thorny plant growing in hot regions. Ants make their home inside the large thorns and eat the plant’s sweet secretions. The payback? When other insects or herbivores try to eat the acacia, the ants swarm from their homes and sting the intruder. But the ants are smart: When bees come to pollinate the plant, the ants leave them alone, because the bees are helpful to the plant’s survival.
Getting Along
The phylum of organisms you’re probably most familiar with, Chordata, which is vertebrates, is broken down into familiar classes. Mammals (Mammalia) are homeothermic vertebrates who nurse their young and have hair in some form on their bodies. A few mammals do lay eggs (they’re called monotremes and include animals like the platypus and echidna). Mammals are found on every continent. Birds (Aves) are homeothermic vertebrates who have two legs and lay eggs. The variety of birds ranges from the two-and-a-half-inch bee hummingbird to the ostrich, which can be up to nine feet tall. Birds, too, are found on every continent?even Antarctica.
Familiar Classes
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Planet Earth
Reptiles (Sauropsida) are ectotherms and most lay eggs. Because they need heat from their environment to help regulate their body temperature, they’re not found in Antarctica, but they live on every other continent. Amphibians (Amphibia) are also ectotherms and spend at least part of their lives in water. Like reptiles, they need heat from their environment, and Amphibians also live on every continent except Antarctica.
How Living Things Are
Classified
As the classification gets more specific, you’re zeroing in on the particular organism. The path to the organism’s specific classification can be very similar. Compare the classification for a coyote and a wolf. Because these two creatures are so similar, their classification is virtually the same, too, right down to the species. Your pet dog’s is even closer to a wolf’s. A dog’s classification is C. lupus familiaris, which means the dog is a subspecies of the grey wolf. Coyote: Animalia > Chordata > Mammalia > Carnivora > Canidae > Canis > C. latrans Grey wolf: Animalia > Chordata > Mammalia > Carnivora > Canidae > Canis > C. lupus
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Life on Earth
Common Pond Insects
water spiders.
Mayfly nymphs eat plants and algae; in turn, they’re eaten by
Water spiders make underwater bubble “webs” to carry air below
the surface to breathe. Fish and frogs eat them.
Water fleas aren’t the same fleas your dog may be familiar with.
They’re aquatic insects that eat algae.
Water mites look like spiders because they’re part of the arachnid
family, too. These insects suck the blood from fellow water insects just as water lice do. Their cousins, the water spiders, eat them.
Dragonfly nymphs are helpful to us because they eat mosquito
larvae. Then, when they’re adult dragon flies, they keep gobbling up mosquitoes, so these are definitely a great insect to see in your pond.
Whirligig beetles are smooth and oval-shaped, so they’re
perfectly designed for streaking through the water while staying alert with their four eyes?two that look up, above the water, and two that look down, into the water.
All animals on Earth have to eat other living things, whether it’s plant life or animals. There’s a pattern to what each animal eats. A mouse eats some berries, and then a fox consumes the mouse. A fruit fly eats ripe fruit, a spider eats the fruit fly, and a bird eats spiders. These “straight line” eating patterns are called food chains. When there’s crossover between food chains, it’s call
 

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