Outdoor Cooking with a Solar Oven

My oldest superhero asked when we could go camping.  I asked him where he got the idea and he said from “Caillou”.  (I really can’t stand Caillou but my boys adore him!).  So I asked him why and he said because he wanted to make s’mores.  So I said, “Well, we don’t have to go camping to do that, in fact, we can make a solar oven and do it in the back yard.  We just need to get a pizza box.” Of course, the next question was, “Mom, can we have pizza tonight?” And so we had pizza and got an extra box.

And we made s’mores in it.  It was gooey and yummy!  And here’s how we did it.

Here’s what you need to get started: (This one requires plenty of adult help)

  • Pizza box
  • Two clear sheet protectors
  • Black construction paper
  • Clear masking or packing tape
  • Box Cutter
  • Scissors
  • Thermometer (optional)
  • Wooden skewer
  • Glue stick (We used Elmer’s glue)
  • Tin foil
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Ingredients for s’mores: graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows

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Using the ruler, we measured out a square on the box lid about 1-2 inches from the edge.  This was a great way to show the superheroes how to use a ruler not only to measure but also to draw straight lines.

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Using the box cutter, we cut out THREE of the sides, leaving the top of the box uncut to form a flap.  Using glue, we covered the inside of the flap with aluminum foil.  We then opened up the box and covered the bottom of the box with aluminum foil as well.

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Next, we cut a piece of black construction paper that was about 1-2 inches smaller than the inside of the pizza box and glued it on top of the foil.

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Then, we took the sheet protector and pulled the two pieces of plastic apart so that we had a large sheet of plastic.

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Using clear masking tape, we taped the sheet protector to the inside of the pizza box lid.  This creates a seal to the “oven” and traps the heat inside the box.

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We used the skewer the poke a hole in the lid and taped it to the flap to hold it open.

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Lastly, we added the graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows to the oven and let it sit out in the hot sun for a few hours (while we went swimming).  When we came home, we had some yummy treats waiting for us!

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If we had a thermometer, it would have been nice to see how hot it really got inside the oven.  It takes some time, but it worked.  I suppose we could have tried to heat up a slice of leftover pizza too 🙂

The science behind the activity:

In this experiment, we are trying to use the energy from the sun and convert it to heat energy that can “cook” food.  To do this, we try to capture the sunlight by using a reflective material such as aluminum foil to reflect the sunlight’s rays inside the pizza box.  The black paper creates the cooking surface and helps to retain the heat (as you might know that wearing black on a hot day makes you feel hotter!).  The sheet protectors help seal in the heat inside the box.  As the air heats up inside the box, so does your food.

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details:

http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/lab/experiments/solar-oven#sthash.JOgsUE9Z.dpuf

 

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One thought on “Outdoor Cooking with a Solar Oven

  1. Awesome activity, it worked out great. Soft cookies, just right for the prek k classes. Thanks Dominoes Pizza for the free boe

    Like

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