ACTIVITY: Solar Pizza Oven

This is a great way to see how the sun's rays can be turned into thermal energy, useful in our daily lives to cook food among many other things. This activity should be done on a sunny day to ensure that the oven cooks at or above 200 degrees. Take caution! It functions like a real oven, so don't touch!
 

You will need

 
  • a pizza box that has been cleaned out. Sometimes, pizza places will donate unused clean boxes if you ask them! 
  • ruler
  • aluminum foil
  • scissors
  • plastic wrap
  • glue stick
  • black construction paper
 

Instructions

  1. Draw a one-inch border around the top of the pizza box. Cut along three sides, leaving the line along the back of the box uncut.
  2. Form a flap by gently folding back the uncut line to form a crease.
  3. Cut a piece of aluminum foil to fit on the inside of the flap. Smooth out any wrinkles and glue into place.
  4. Measure a piece of plastic to fit over the opening you created by forming the flap. The plastic should be larger than the opening so that it can be taped to the underside of the box top. Be sure the plastic becomes a tightly sealed window so that the air cannot escape from the oven.
  5. Cut another piece of aluminum foil to line the inside of the pizza box and carefully glue into place.
  6. Cover the bottom with black construction paper and glue into place.
  7. Close the pizza box top with the window, and prop open the flap with the ruler you used to measure before. (A wooden dowel or straw may be used as well.)
  8. Adjust until the aluminum reflects the maximum sunlight through the window into the oven interior.
  9. And enjoy your treats! Ovens will have to preheat about 30 minutes before cooking anything.

You can heat up pizza, cook hot-dogs, and melt nachos, just to name a few! 

 
 
 

Solar Oven S'mores

I’ll have some more s'mores please!

YOU WILL NEED

 
  • Graham crackers
  • Hershey's chocolate bar
  • large campfire marshmallows
 

INSTRUCTIONS

After your solar oven has preheated for about 30 minutes, place 4 squares of chocolate on each of the graham crackers. Top with marshmallows. Cover with remaining graham crackers to form sandwiches. Press to seal and wrap with foil. Place in oven. Bake until heated and chocolate begins to melt. Serve immediately.

 

Food for thought: Why is the inside of a solar oven black instead of white? This is because dark-colored objects absorb more light and store more heat from the sun than light-colored objects.