Lesson 12

Solar Cooking

 

Activity:

Be a solar chef! Students will harness the power of solar energy to cook food. Classes with less time can create a simple oven and cook apple slices. With more time, students will be able to create a solar oven to make s'mores.

 

Content Standards Addressed:

Common Core State Standards

 

Reproducible: FYI! What Is Energy?

For background information on solar and other forms of energy, make copies of the reproducible. Have students read the text and answer the Reflect and Review questions independently. Or read the text aloud and discuss the answers to the questions together.

 

Reproducible: Our Natural Resources

Natural resources like energy are important. To find out more about natural resources and learn some fast facts about energy sources, make copies of the reproducible. Assign as independent reading, or read aloud together. 

 

Materials:

Apple ovens:
  • Black construction paper.
  • Tape.
  • Large plastic cups.
  • Apples.
  • Aluminum foil.
  • Small plastic cups.
  • Old newspapers.
  • Plastic wrap.
S'mores ovens:
  • Pizza boxes.
  • Black construction paper.
  • Clear plastic.
  • Scissors.
  • Magic markers.
  • Graham crackers.
  • Marshmallows.
  • Aluminum foil.
  • Tape.
  • Ruler.
  • Wooden dowels.
  • Chocolate bars.
  • Cooking thermometer.

 

Procedure:

This activity is suitable for carrying out inside a classroom with windows that receive a lot of sunlight. Before conducting this activity, make sure the students understand the basic principles of energy, renewable and nonrenewable sources and solar energy.

Bake an Apple

Have students line a 12" x 18" sheet of black construction paper with foil. Roll the paper into a cone with the foil on the inside and tape the outside edges to secure. Place the bottom of the cone into the larger cup, pushing pieces of crumpled newspaper around it to keep it in place.​​

 
Line the inside of the small cup with black construction paper and place the lined cup in the cone. This will serve as your oven.
Wash apples and cut into slices, then wrap the slices in plastic wrap. Place the apples into the small cup. Set the oven on a window ledge that receives plenty of sunlight and bake the apple until cooked through.
​ ​

Make S'mores

Students will need to create their solar pizza box ovens in a class period prior to cooking. Ovens should be placed in the sun at least 30 minutes before the beginning of the activity to preheat.

These solar ovens can reach internal temperatures of up to 275 degrees, hot enough to cook food. For added safety, cooking s'mores guarantees that none of the food will pose a bacterial threat.

Using a clean pizza box and rulers, have students draw a border one-inch from the edge of the top four sides of the box. Then cut along three sides leaving the back line uncut.

Fold the flap back to the uncut line to form a crease. Line the inside of the flap with aluminum foil, gluing it into place. Be sure that the wrinkles are smoothed out.

Cut another piece of aluminum foil to cover the bottom of the pizza box and glue into place. Cover this aluminum foil with a piece of black construction paper.

Next, have students measure a piece of plastic to fit over the opening created by the flap and cut it slightly larger. Tape the plastic securely to the underside of the box. The plastic should be tightly sealed to make sure air cannot escape from the oven.

Have the students assemble s'mores to place inside the pizza box for cooking.​

With the pizza box closed, prop open the flap with a wooden dowel or straw and face towards the sun. Have the students experiment with adjusting the flap until they find the angle that reflects the most sun into the oven.
 
Using an oven thermometer placed inside the box, students can monitor and record the temperature inside the box periodically.