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Zeer Pots Use Green Techology to Reduce African Hunger



It's Saturday, the day for American classics from the early days of jazz and rhythm and blues. WGBO.FM out of Newark, NJ has a great web link with superb sound and radio hosts who really know the music. Little Milton is the featured blues artist this morning, but the joy is in the bass lines, rhythm guitar licks, and kicking fills that are a lost art today, not to mention the sweet, soulful saxophone solos by masters of its language. The jumping jive and kinetic swing returns the body to a time when feet were fast and light. If you have a favorite “old school” web link for music, please let me know.

It's time for high school science fairs, and here's a green experiment that is easy, fun, and safe, and should score winning points at school or home. It's call the Zeer pot. The Zeer pot is a simple clay refrigerator. The Zeer pot was invented in 1995, by a Nigerian science teacher, Mohammed Bah Abba. The pot provides a method of cooling for food and drinks that doesn't depend on electricity. The Zeer pot is portable, and only requires on clean sand, a small amount of water, and two terracotta pots (without drain holes), one larger than the other so the smaller one can sit inside the larger one.

The Zeer pot is now in wide use throughout Africa. In countries from Nigeria to the Sudan, it has helped prevent hunger and starvation, especially among children and the elderly. The life of tomatoes kept in a Zeer pot go from 2 days to 20 days! Okra goes from 4 days to 17!

To make your Zeer pot, place a layer of sand in the bottom of the larger pot. The layer should bring the rim of the smaller pot up the same level as the larger pot. Make sure the smaller rim is not higher; it may be lower. Now carefully add sand (use a funnel, row up a newspaper, fold cardboard, etc.) to fill in the space between the pots (1 – 2 inches ideally).

Next, place the Zeer pot in the shade, in a well ventilated area. Now carefully add water to the fill sand, until the water “pools” on the top (indicating the sand is filled with water).

Place food and drink--apples, oranges, bottled drinks, bread, baloney, condiments, etc.--inside the smaller terracotta pot.

For the science experiment, place thermometers inside the pot and outside in the ambient air. Register the temperature readings each hour, and chart the differences to determine the effectiveness of the the Zeer pot as a green cooling device. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Zeer pot.

The pot works on the principles of evaporation. The porous walls of the inner pot absorbs water from the sand. This transfer allows the water to evaporate from the inner walls, providing a cooling effect. Try the experiment at different humidity levels (easily found on the web at weather sites). Lower levels of humility should work better. Also cover the pot with a wet tea towel or a piece of cotton fabric. Does that improve the cooling effect? Try to measure the effects on windy days. The faster evaporation, caused by the wind, will heighten the cooling effect.

And after science, you have a neat green cooler for backyard snacks and drinks!

Thanks for reading! Southern Perlo is posted from Kudu Coffee (African coffees and good conversation!), in Charleston, SC. In a Southern voice, it gathers stories and views for local communities, and was recently featured on the Lou Dobbs radio show. (Perlo is rice enriched by local bounty to enhance its pleasure and value, carefully crafted; stirred by experience, enjoyed by all.)

“From the Front Porches of Charleston: The Election of Barack Obama,” is the first e-book about Obama in Charleston, and it's free! Charleston writer Walter Rhett writes about the election through parallels of Charleston's history. Rhett edited over 100 photo pages. Download free at: www.lulu.com/content/5282127 .


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