A2 STEAM 7th graders distribute meals to those experiencing homelessness

In science class, students created portable heaters to keep the soup hot

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News

Fifty people experiencing homelessness were treated to a hot meal Monday night thanks to some generous A2 STEAM seventh graders.

The students put together 50 portable, ready-to-eat meals for the homeless population, including soup heated by portable heaters they created using a chemical reaction much like what is used to heat up hand warmers. 

In science class, students worked hard to perfect the chemical reaction needed in order to adequately heat the soup that’s included in the meals, and parents donated fruit, rolls, and desserts to go with it, said their science teacher, Jennie Allan.

The meals were then dropped off after school Monday at Peace House in Ypsilanti, a warming center for the homeless that’s located in the Depot Town Freight House. 

Students were tasked with coming up with a flameless heater, Allan explained, noting that they came up with a safe solution following lots of trials and errors.

Vegetarians were not forgotten.

“They had to go through many iterations as far as the design process to come up with the design,” Allan explained. “As far as the materials, one of the things that we were looking for one of the criteria was that it had to be a relatively inexpensive meal for us. And so one of the things that students had to do as part of the engineering design process was figure out how much the components of their meals would cost. And in the end, the materials were approximately $3 per prototype.”

Students said they got satisfaction from helping those in need:

Axel: “Sometimes they can’t always get food and you have to make sure that they are able to stay healthy, like if they can’t afford to get other things like food, or a home, and stuff.  Like you have to take care of people, and be kind to everybody.”  

Miles: “We wanted to be able to use science and the things that we’re learning in school and apply them to the real world by helping people in our community.”  

Charlie: “We’re using science to help the less fortunate here in Washtenaw County.”

Peatmoss Ellis, co-director of the daytime warming center, said she’s heartened to see more awareness of the fact that some people sleep outside even during the winter months, and knows the meals and companionship are appreciated.

“I think it’s really beautiful that the kids are getting involved,” she said.

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