By Nicole Mion

I have been blessed to have a father who has a vested interest in my education. Being a girl and the firstborn, my Dad and I went through some trial and error before we discovered our mutual interests. He wanted to take me to the gun range, I wanted to go shopping.

Even though he worked a full-time job away from home when I was small, he taught me how to cook, multiply fractions, and was my personal Physical Science professor. I really liked it when we did science experiments. Even though I’m approaching twenty-two, I still appreciate the bonding time we had together.

So instead of getting my Dad another tie for Father’s Day this year, I think I might take him down to the UF/IFAS Hillsborough County Extension Office and we can bond in a cool, geeky way like we used to.

Beginning on Wednesday, June 12, the Extension Office is holding classes on select days on how to build solar cookers, which is just in time for the start of Hurricane Season on Saturday, June 1. As its webpage says, “Learning to make and use a solar cooker can let you have hot meals when the power is off, after an emergency or major storm, keep you from losing food, and just help reduce your cooking costs”.

I’ll have time to take my Dad out to breakfast before heading over to a class at 10 a.m. (being sure to register online at first as class space and work requirements are limited). For $10, my Dad and I can have a great time while making something both innovative and useful.

This sounds like a project for older children and adults, but if you’re seven-years-old and aren’t exactly rolling in the dough, don’t fret. Take your Dad, a roll of mint Mentos, and a 2-ltr. of Diet Coke outside and see what happens (check out for a fascinating explanation of this phenomenon!)


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Kelly Wise Valdes has been writing for the Osprey Observer since 2008. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications and enjoys writing and traveling. She currently resides in northern Hillsborough County with her husband, David. When not traveling and writing, Kelly and her husband enjoy spending time with their five grown children (as well as their grandchildren) that still keep them very busy.