As the star in the sky that gives us life, the Sun is capable of doing many things. It gives us light as we wake up in the morning, it warms us up as we crawl out of bed, and it has recently been used to harness energy to power whole buildings and neighborhoods.
So this summer, why not show your children the true power of the Sun by creating your own homemade solar oven. With this cool science experiment, you can cook some delicious food and learn about science as you channel the power of our star in the sky.
Materials You'll Need
- Cardboard pizza box
- Tin Foil
- Wooden spoon or stick
- Black construction paper and newspaper
- Clear plastic wrap
- Scissors or a sharp knife
How To Create Your Sun Oven
Here comes the fun part! With the scissors or knife, cut a rectangular flap out of the top of the pizza box, leaving one side still connected – fold this flap up so it’s nearly perpendicular to the ground, and leave it supported this way with the wooden spoon.
Now you should have a pizza box with a flap folded out of it, and a hole entering the box. Cover the flap with tin foil on the face that folds into the box – securely tape it around the back of the flap. This foil will help reflect heat into the cardboard oven.
Once you’ve wrapped the flap in tin foil, tape pieces of black construction paper on the inside of the sun oven – the black will help absorb heat and cook your food faster. Inside of the box, add small rolls of newspaper – this will act as insulation for your oven.
Finally, once you have insulated the inside of your sun oven, place a sheet of clear plastic wrap over the opening of your oven, but don’t tape it down – you’ll need to remove it in order to insert the food.
Your oven should be ready to cook now!
How to Use Your Oven
Start with something simple to cook, like toast or a grilled cheese sandwich. Place the food inside of the box, and securely place the plastic wrap over the opening. Then, using the flap covered in foil, position the box so that the most light is reflective off of the lid and onto the food through the plastic. If you would like to leave your food to cook as you perform other tasks, prop open the lid at the correct angle with the wooden spoon and let it sit for however long you need.
Why Your Oven Works
If you’ve created the oven correctly, your food should be ready over a period of time. Because solar ovens generally only reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit, it will take longer to cook dishes than in a regular oven – you don’t have to worry about starting a fire, though, and you can let it sit unattended!
The heat reflected off of the tin foil is extremely powerful. Utilized correctly, it can warm foods and even kill most harmful bacteria.
If you do undertake this project with your child, be sure to take certain measures of safety before beginning. Do not let them use scissors or a knife unattended, and make sure to monitor them while using the clear plastic wrap. Also, the sunlight reflected off of the foil can be extremely powerful – make sure to have them wear sunscreen in order to avoid a painful burn.
Fun in the Sun
While we may take it for granted, the Sun is the most powerful force in our lives that gives us light and warmth. Try this fun science experiment with your child this summer to create some yummy dishes, and learn about our favorite ball of fire.