Solar Oven S’mores

Overview

Students will explore the power of solar energy and prepare themselves a tasty treat!

Experiment Length

1 hour

day 10

materials
  • 1 Cardboard box/Pizza box (The larger the box, the better the oven should work.)

  • 1 Pencil or pen

  • 1 Ruler

  • 1 Utility knife or box cutter  (Always make sure you have adult help when using knives and other sharp objects!)

  • Aluminum foil

  • White glue (Elmer’s or other)

  • Plastic wrap

  • Tape (preferably shipping tape or black electrical tape)

  • 1 sheet of black paper (optional)

  • 1 wooden skewer, chopstick, or pencil

  • Graham crackers, marshmallows and a chocolate bar (Optional, if you want to cook some s'mores in your solar oven.

Vocabulary
  • Wave: In this case, a wave isn’t something you see at the beach. Waves are vibrations that transfer energy. They’re actually all around us! Sound and light are both waves.

  • Radiation: Radiation is any process which creates a wave. If you hit a drum, the drum radiates sound. The sun radiates light!

  • Electromagnetic spectrum: The electromagnetic spectrum is how we group a certain type of wave. The light we see is only a small part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Types of radiation are grouped based on wavelength (the size of a wave). 

steps
  1. Clean out the pizza box

  2. Draw a square on the top of the pizza box with the sides one inch away from the edge of the box. Use a ruler to make sure your lines are straight!

  3. Have an adult help you cut the lid along this line except for the side close to the hinge. You can think about it like you are making a lid inside the pizza box lid!

  4. Wrap the underside of the flap you just cut with tin foil. Use glue to help the foil stay in place! Keep the foil as smooth as possible. What is the purpose of this foil?

  5. Cover the opening in the top of the box with plastic wrap, and use tape to secure the plastic wrap to the box. Make sure there are no holes where air could escape from the box. Why is it important that the box has no holes?

  6. Line the inside of the box- the sides, bottom, and top- with aluminum foil. Use glue to anchor the foil to the box and keep the foil as smooth as possible. Make sure you can still open and close the oven! Why is it important to keep the box sealed with foil? 

  7. Glue or tape a sheet of black paper in the center of the bottom of the box.  (optional) All the heat will be attracted to this paper! Why will the heat be attracted to the black paper?

  8. Make a s’more and put it on a small sheet of tin foil (a little larger than the s’more)

  9. Put the tin foil “plate” and the s’more in the center of the black paper. 

  10. Use the pencil or skewer to prop the roof of the box up at a right angle (straight up). 

  11. Put the solar oven outside somewhere it will get full sunlight for ½ hour. This works best on a hot day! Turn it so the flap faces the sun.

  12. After a half-hour, your s’more should be ready to eat! How did it cook?

the science

When sunlight comes into the box, it bounces off of the shiny foil until it hits the s’more or the black paper. When the sunlight reaches the s’more or the paper, it turns into heat! This is why you feel hot on sunny days. Once the light has turned into heat, it cannot leave the box through the plastic wrap. Many clear surfaces stop heat! This is why cars get very hot inside if they are left in the sun. The heat in the box cooks the s’more over time. 

Taking it further

Try cooking other food items or improving the design of your oven!

Learn More About Solar Energy

How do Solar Panels Work?

Inspired by Scientific American

Special thanks to Honor Pimentel for the Spanish translation

daily challenge

Post your photos and video on social media with #curieusinquarantine or send them to us at curieusinquarantine@curieus.org for an entry into our raffle!

We will select one lucky kid tomorrow to win a free Curieus swag bag with a Curieus shirt, stickers, and candy. Submit your entry to curieusinquarantine@curieus.org by 8 pm on Monday, May 25th!

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