Film Festival 2006
Rowena Gerber and the Solar Oven Project

"My hero is Mrs. Gerber, because she told me about solar cooking, and how it can save lives and stuff. "

Andy, a student at Miami Country Day School

Rowena Gerber is a dedicated humanitarian and the inventive director of ACES (The Abess Center for Environmental Studies) at Miami Country Day School. She has done much to further solar cooking in the United States and around the world. She’s taught literally hundreds of kids about solar cooking. Her elementary students raise money from the organic gardens they plant, then partner with the Miami Shores Rotary Club to send SOLAR OVENS to places like AFGHANISTAN and HAITI.Rowena's heroes include Paul Munsen, President of Sun Ovens, who she admires because of his relentless work to aid people in developing countries.

MY HERO with support from The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation produced an award winning short film about Rowena Gerber, and her students from Miami Country Day School as they introduce youth from around the globe to their work with solar cooking at the 2006 international YouthCan conference in New York City. Videographer Skip Blumberg in this film combines interviews with both Rowena and her hero Paul Munsen, President of Sun Ovens, as well as fun excerpts of her students at the conference and the reactions of other youth conference listeners, the enthusiasm and involvement of these students in international environmental care is inspiring. In addition, the film shows the application of the solar cookers in rural villages in Africa. This film educates adults and inspires children as well, and reflects how the energy of youth can contribute to improving environmental and human welfare concerns around the world.

Student and Solar Oven Project Ambassador Andy: <em>  Solar energy, which is energy we get from the sun, is the cleanest source of energy.
Student and Solar Oven Project Ambassador Andy: Solar energy, which is energy we get from the sun, is the cleanest source of energy.

Rowena describes how it all began, saying "It was a little class project that we started. It was going to last one week, now its lasted 12 years. We have a lab set up, the Abess Center for Environmental Studies with over a hundred and fifty animals, 30 gardens, and our solar cooking projects, and all the lessons are based on inquiry science. The children go out and explore, they ask the questions first, and then they care about finding the answer. They don’t have to look to me for the answers, they know they can investigate and discover on their own."

A women cooks with a solar oven in Ndianda, a small village in Southeast Senegal
A women cooks with a solar oven in Ndianda, a small village in Southeast Senegal

Paul Munsen: It’s magic; it’s a magic box. This will get up to 400 degrees farenheit in really good sun, but consistently between 325 and 360 degrees, so it boils, bakes and steams, and does a wonderful job.

Rowena: Solar cookers are so important because there are two billion people on earth who have to use wood for their fuel.

Paul: In most countries we can replace about 70% of the use of wood and charcoal, and it has a very big effect on the environment. One oven used in Africa can replace up to 4,000 pounds of wood each year, which is about 7,000 pounds of CO-2 emissions that go into the air and have a major effect on global warming. The wonderful thing is that once a family in a developing country gets a solar oven, they’re able to use is for 15 to 20 years and the sun is free!

Page created on 1/20/2007 3:00:21 PM

Last edited 1/20/2007 3:00:21 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

VIEW THE SHORT FILM-Rowena Gerber and the Solar Oven Project
Solar Cooking and Rowena Gerber - read an interview with Rowena about solar cooking
YouthCan information - YouthCaN is a youth run organization that uses technology , conferences, activities and events to inspire, connect and educate people worldwide about environmental issues.
Sun Ovens: - Find out how YOU can Save Lives by Preserving Forests Around The World.
Kids Can Make a Difference - is an educational program for middle and high school students that focuses on root causes of hunger and poverty, the solutions, and how kids can help

Extra Info

"The VILLAGER SUN OVEN is designed for large-scale feeding situations that require cooking great volumes of food quickly. Even though it is called an oven, food can be baked, boiled and steamed at cooking temperatures of 500 degrees F/260 degrees C with no fuel costs. Over 1,200 meals a day can be cooked. For use at night or on rainy days, the VILLAGER is equipped with a propane back-up unit. This oven weighs 980 pounds/ 444 Kg. and comes mounted on a trailer. In less than two hours, someone can be fully trained as to how to operate the oven."

"VILLAGER SUN OVENS are currently in use in 40 countries around the world. The primary usage is in large scale feeding or in bakeries. An optional 150 piece Sun-Bakery package that enables the creation of a self-sustaining micro-enterprise to turn out fresh baked goods while creating jobs and eliminating the cost of fuel is available."

"The GLOBAL SUN OVEN is designed to meet up to 80% of the cooking needs of a typical family, entirely with the power of the sun. Cooking temperatures of 360 degrees F/182 degrees C can be maintained in this easy-to-use unit. This ruggedly built oven weighs only 21 pounds/9.5 Kg. and will last more than 20 years. GLOBAL SUN OVENS are available fully assembled or in bulk quantities unassembled."

Read what other 4th graders have to say about solar cooking...

Simon H.
I study solar cooking because I think it is fun, but I think solar cooking is important because it can help people all over the world. I hope that everyone can stop using firewood and charcoal.

I am involved because I want to help the world to be a better place. I feel good about it because I get to help people and even save lives.

I think it is very important to raise money to send solar cookers to different countries because people use wood fires to cook their food. They stand around the fires and they can get burned and scarred. The smoke they breathe is like smoking three packs of cigarettes a day.

Solar cooking can help so many people…and it is a great feeling to know you have done something to help someone. Even if it is just one person you are helping, it’s a great feeling.

I want the world to be a better place, and it is fun to help. It makes me feel very proud to do these things.

It makes be feel good because we are helping people and their lives are better than they were before.

Garrett K.
I am involved because I want to help people, and solar cooking can help a lot of people. It also saves a lot of trees.

I think our project is important because we are helping people less fortunate than we are.

I am involved with solar cooking because it helps people. Giving them a solar cooker is like giving them an infinite amount of firewood.

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Author Info

Rowena Gerber & the Solar Oven Project
Produced by Jeanne Meyers and Skip Blumberg
Skip Blumberg Videographer/Editor

View a short film of My Hero student reporter Andy, as he visits the YouthCan Conference in New York City with his hero Rowena Gerber to present Paul Munsen's Solar Oven Project.
Thanks to the American Legion Child Welfare Foundation for their support of this short film.

View Film Small (20.1 MB) - 7:21 Minutes
View Film Large (29.2 MB) - 7:21 Minutes

This short film was shot and edited by Skip Blumberg one of the original camcorder-for-broadcast producers. His independently produced TV programs and camcorder reports have appeared on PBS, Showtime, The Disney Channel, National Geographic Explorer, The Learning Channel, Bravo and other networks, and are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of TV and Radio. Blumberg has produced more than 100 shorts for Sesame Street. He lives and works in Tribeca, New York and is President of Friends of City Hall Park. His hero is Nam June Paik, a Korean-born American inventor and pioneer of video art.