December 15, 2017

Winners Announced for the 6th Annual IMAG Solar Energy Cook-Off

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

Dec 08, 2017 08:46PM ● Published by Melanie Heisinger


solar energy cook off winner

Early December 2017, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in collaboration with the city of Fort Myers IMAG – History & Science Center, co-hosted the 6th Annual Solar Energy Cook-Off.

students designing solar cooker

Students from grades K-12 worked together in teams to design and build a solar cooker, demonstrating the utility of their inventions by cooking an original dish.

Organized by DEP’s South District Office and the IMAG (History & Science Center), the Solar Energy Cook-Off has grown in popularity since its inception in 2012.

The Solar Cook-Off challenge is a two-part competition encompassing design of a functional solar cooker and the creation of a dish cooked in the same cooker. This competition was developed to provide a real world solar thermal challenge for elementary, middle and high school students, facilitating creativity, critical thinking and awareness of alternative technology.

The Annual Solar Energy Cook-Off Challenge brings students from grades K-12 together, working as teams to design, build and cook their original dish in their solar “cookers” demonstrating the performance of their inventions. This design and cooking event is an excellent opportunity to combine the teaching of many scientific and social principles in an atmosphere of fun and excitement.

solar cooker

There are two areas of judging – Design and Cookery. Design judges evaluate the cookers base on design decisions, construction technique, function, creativity and durability, while cookery judges evaluate the food dish base on suitability, appeal, difficulty and nutrition.

Martha Avila, DEP event Coordinator, told us, “The 2017 event was phenomenal! While Hurricane Irma posed challenges for many schools getting teams together, we had 22 elementary-to-high school teams with 100 participating students who worked hard, worked collaboratively and rocked the engineering design process to harness the power of the sun, cooking recipes ranging from cheesesteaks and pizza to salmon, steak, and cakes.”

Four awards were given this year for the Best Oven Design and Top Solar Chefs, with a final “WOW” Award given to the best overall design and original dish.

And the Winner Is …

  • Babcock Neighborhood, Elementary School    1st Place- $500.00
  • Bishop Verot, High School                                 2nd Place- $300.00
  • Saint Michael Lutheran, Middle School             3rd Place- $200.00
  • Saint Michael Lutheran                                      WOW!-      $400.00

The annual competition is aimed at helping students sharpen their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills while introducing them to zero emission technologies such as solar cooking.

“Each year the students continue to amaze us with the quality of their recipes and innovative cooker designs. Each teams’ phenomenal creativity produced a variety of innovative technologies that involved extraordinary design of solar cooker boxes, fresnel lens panels, and parabolic dishes,” said Martha.

WOW award winners

The WOW Award has been designated by Carol Newcomb as the WOW Judge throughout the years. “My life long passion and devotion to help others better understand the benefits of harnessing the abundant, free, non-polluting energy that radiates from the sun each day is why make me stays involved in the Solar Cook-off” said Carol.

The student teams competing in Solar Design and chefs are made up of tomorrow’s engineers, architects, researchers and policy makers. As a robust workforce training platform, the Solar Cook-Off prepares students to become our next generation of industry professionals that will seek jobs in their respective fields.

Martha says, “We are very grateful to everyone, students, parents judges and volunteers who helped make it all happen!