Why buy a microwave when all you need is a cardboard box and a little help from the sun? Students from Edward R. Murrow and James Madison high schools presented a clever collection of fun and exciting green home designs at the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday — including solar powered pizza boxes and a creative cardboard model of a futuristic green city. The displays, sponsored by GrowNYC, were created entirely from recyclable and biodegradable materials, and combined a touch of simplicity with a huge amount of youthful creativity.
Stationed right in front of the steps of the North Plaza of Union Square, students of Edward R. Murrow High Schools attracted quiet a lot of attention as they conducted cooking demos on their solar powered pizza box ovens. The ovens are created by taking a regular pizza box and making a 1″ cut on all three sides. The pizza box panels are covered with aluminum to reflect the sun’s energy. Inside the pizza boxes are also covered with black paper on all sides, including the bottom, to absorb the heat. The open section of the box is covered with plastic.
The students placed cheese pizza and a thermometer in each box to demonstrate just how hot the boxes can get. The students also placed a few pennies on top of the plastic that covered the inside of the box. But don’t even think of touching the pennies — they get extremely hot. It’s no surprise the pennies burned to the touch given the heat conductive nature of copper, but the fact that the pizza boxes heated up the food and the pennies was quiet impressive. In fact, the pizza boxes reached above 200º in the midday sun.
Just up the stairs behind the pizza boxes was another great display, courtesy of the students of James Madison High School. Designed entirely with everyday household materials, the students created the future of NYC as a green city. The sustainable models combined public transportation and wide pedestrian spaces with green houses and commercial buildings. Some of the commercial buildings had little houses on the roofs, similar to rooftop houses we spotted all over NYC. The buildings even had aluminum solar panels and cardboard wind turbines.
No matter the age or the level of experience, it’s very clear that environmental sustainability is very important not just for us, but also for a future generations. It’s great to see that New York City students are taking an active role in imaging a greener Big Apple. After all, the future of the green movement lies in their hands.
Images © Will Giron for Inhabitat