“When I stumbled upon solar cooking as a science teacher in 1996, I quickly understood its potential as a teaching tool for STEM, but it was my involvement with Solar Cookers International that provided insight into its capacity for positive global impact. SCI’s network of solar cooking advocates, inventors, and enthusiasts creates opportunities to share, learn and collaborate with people around the world. As an SCI Global Advisor and proud Associate, it’s a privilege to represent Solar Cookers International in its capacity at the United Nations.”
Mary’s experience using solar cookers as educational tools for STEM and cross-curricular education convinced her that solar cookers had an important place in the classroom. After retiring from teaching, Mary sought opportunities to promote the use of solar cookers as educational tools through various conference presentations, including SCI’s first webinar in 2015, Engaging Students in Cross-Curricular Solar Cooking Lessons.
In 2016, Mary and Jennifer Gasser cofounded Solar Education Project (SEP) with the nonprofit, Global Development Solutions. The SEP team provides solar cooking themed educational resources, programming, and support to area schools and organizations. Mary and Jennifer annually present a day of solar cooking for Pakistani and US students enrolled in Learning Streams International’s Summer Ecology Program at Hiram College. Since 2016, Mary and Jennifer have worked with Haitian partners to deliver solar cooking themed lessons and accompanying hands on materials to schools in Haiti.
In 2019, Mary and Jennifer traveled to Hinche to present two lessons they had developed for the semester-long course on solar cooking at the Université Notre Dame D'Haïti. Collaborations with Youngstown State University’s College of STEM, Beeghly College of Education, and the Department of Human Services have created opportunities to work with undergraduate students in research projects and development of solar cooking themed curriculum.
Mary was an advocate for SCI at the United Nations High Level Political Forum in 2018 and 2019. She enjoys the interactions that allow for fuller understanding of people’s interests in clean cooking technology. Her belief in the transformative power of education motivates her to continue promoting solar cooking whenever and wherever she can.