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Island Restaurant



If you're on a tropical island, it's great to know there is a restaurant where the food is fresh and the mood is mellow. After you're through with your rough science, don't forget to make a reservation!

The Challenges!



Make a Solar Oven

Nothing beats home cooking! It's your restaurant and you're the chef. Get creative with the menu. In fact, get creative with the oven. Make your own solar oven to prepare exquisite meals for your guests.

You'll need:

  • a box with a lid, e.g. a pizza box
  • black construction paper
  • aluminum foil
  • heavy plastic laminate
  • glue
  • transparent tape
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • magic marker
  • straw

Solar Oven

What you do:
Draw a square on the lid of the box and cut along three sides of it. Fold back along the uncut side to form a flap that opens and shuts. Line the inside of the flap with aluminum foil, smoothed over and glued into place. Cut a piece of plastic to fit very tightly over the hole you created in the lid of the box by forming the flap. Use enough plastic to overlap the underside of the flap. Seal the plastic by taping it to the underside of the flap. (The plastic has to be tightly sealed to make sure that no air can escape from the oven.) Line the bottom of the box with foil, and glue it into place. Again, take care to smooth out all wrinkles. Cut out a piece of black construction paper to fit on the bottom and tape it in place. Close the lid (including the plastic window) and prop the flap open, facing the sun. Move the box around to get the maximum amount of sun into your oven. Try cooking something like s'mores. Compare the solar oven with the solar water heater.

What's going on?
Energy, radiating from the sun, reflects off the foil. This heat energy is then stored in the oven.

For more information on solar-powered technology, see http://www.solarnow.org/pizzabx.htm.

For more information, see Rough Science episode 9: "Power Supplies"



Make an Herb Terrarium

Spice up your food and garnish dishes with herbs and spices grown in an herb terrarium (herbarium). Your restaurant will become an instant hit once customers realize that their palates will be pampered with subtle flavors. Building a terrarium is much easier than tending a garden, and it's low maintenance.

You'll need:

  • a glass or plastic container, such as a candy jar or pickle jar, with a wide mouth and tight-fitting lid
  • potting soil
  • potted herbs
  • colored stones
  • shells
  • water
  • soap
  • paper towel

What you do:
Do some research to select herbs that need similar conditions (soil, light, water) for growth. Take care to choose plants that will not outgrow the container. After cleaning, rinsing, and drying the container thoroughly, fill it full with potting soil. Place the plants in the soil at a depth similar to that in their pots and press the soil down around them. Squeeze water from wet paper towels to moisten the soil around the plants, but do not overwater or you will kill them. (If you need to, you can add more water at a later date.) Decorate your terrarium with colored stones and shells. Close the lid tightly and place the terrarium where the plants will receive the light they need. You have created a self-sustaining ecosystem.

What's going on?
The lid traps air inside the terrarium. Plants use carbon dioxide and sunlight during the day to produce food and oxygen through photosynthesis. At night, they use the oxygen to create more carbon dioxide. The water trapped inside the terrarium is absorbed through the roots of the plants. It moves up through the stems and evaporates through the leaves. Like rain, the water will condense on the top of the terrarium and drip back down to the bottom. The oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water are therefore constantly being recycled by the plants.

For more information, see Rough Science episode 10: "Sustenance and Sayonara"



Make a Solar Water Heater

Wash the sand off after a dip in the ocean with a relaxing warm shower hooked up to a solar water heater. All it takes is a few simple objects and plenty of sunshine!

You'll need:

  • water jug
  • large fish tank with a lid
  • aluminum foil
  • transparent tape
  • cardboard, with an area greater than the base of the fish tank
  • thermometer
  • black paint
  • paintbrush
  • water

What you do:
Line the sides of the tank with aluminum foil, inside and out, and tape the foil firmly in place. Paint the bottom of the inside of the tank black. Place the cardboard in a spot that is in the sun all day. Place the tank squarely on the cardboard. Once the paint is completely dry, fill the tank with water. Put the lid on the tank. Use the thermometer to test the temperature of the water every half hour. If it gets too hot for a comfortable shower, remove the lid until the water equilibrates with the outside temperature.

What's going on?
Sunlight (infrared energy) passes through the glass and is absorbed by the water. Water has a high heat capacity (able to absorb and hold heat). A black surface absorbs some of the light (sunlight). If trapped, as it is in this case by the insulation (the foil), the heat (energy) accumulates and is reflected into the water so it gets warmer. The heat energy cannot escape as easily back through the glass so the water stays warm.

For more information, see Rough Science episode 9: "Power Supplies"



Suggestions for other activities:

  • To make the ice cream taste better, add flavors or fruit.
  • So patrons can be notified when their table is ready, make a buzzer for the maitre d' of the hotel. (See the Island Power Plant scenario.)
  • Make butter, popcorn, and peanut butter, and soda.