Make a Solar Oven! – Instructions

 Explaining the concept of renewable energy to kids can be tricky, which is why making a solar oven is such a great activity.
PBS kids has a great step-by-step solar oven guide,
or check out this easy Home Training Tools method.
They even have some tasty recipes for you to make in your new cooker! Flickr 
Here is that Step by step guide:

Harness the sun’s heat to cook up a tasty treat.

  • 2 large sheets of black poster board
  • aluminum foil
  • black construction paper
  • cardboard box
  • pizza box
  • newspaper
  • tape
  • book
  • resealable plastic baggies
  • graham crackers
  • marshmallows
  • chocolate bar
  • 3 thermometers


  1. Check with an adult before you begin.
  2. Scot of CA sent in a design for a cone-shaped Solar Cooker. Caroline and Libby sent in a design for a pizza box Solar Cooker. You can just make one of these Solar Cookers or make them both to see which one cooks a s’more the fastest.
  3. To make Scot’s Solar Cooker, glue two pieces of black poster board together to make one long piece. Cover one side with aluminum foil.
  4. Bend the poster board, foil side in, into a cone shape and tape it together. The cone should still be open on both ends.
  5. Put black construction paper in the bottom of a cardboard box. This dark surface will absorb heat into the bottom of the box.
  6. Prop the cone in the box with the narrower opening pointing down.
  7. Put a graham cracker with a marshmallow on top of it in a resealable baggie. Chocolate melts faster than marshmallows, so it works best to cook the marshmallow first and add the chocolate later.
  8. Put the baggie on the bottom of the box in the center of the cone.
  9. To make Caroline and Libby’s pizza box Solar Cooker, put a few sheets of newspaper in the bottom of a pizza box. Cover the newspaper with black construction paper to absorb heat.
  10. Cut a flap out of the top of the pizza box two inches from the sides and front but attached in the back. Bend it back and cover the inside of the flap with aluminum foil.
  11. Tape plastic wrap across the hole left by the flap.
  12. Put a graham cracker with a marshmallow on it on top of the black paper in the bottom of the box. Close the box.
  13. Use a book or tape to prop open the flap so that the aluminum foil can catch the sunlight and reflect it onto the marshmallow.
  14. Make an extra s’more to be the control. Don’t put this one in a Solar Cooker. If the control s’more cooks as well as the ones in the Solar Cookers, you will know that the Solar Cookers aren’t working better than the sun by itself. Predict how long you think it will take to cook the s’more and which cooker will get hotter and cook faster.
  15. You need the sun to make your Solar Cookers work, so you’ll need to do your cooking outside.
  16. Once you set up your Solar Cookers outside, put a thermometer inside each one and one on the control s’more. This will help you compare the temperature in the Solar Cooker to the temperature outside. If the Solar Cookers are working, it will be hotter inside the cookers than it is outside on the control.
  17. Check your Solar Cookers every 15 minutes to make sure they aren’t in the shade. If the sun moves, move the cookers so they stay in the sun.
  18. Time how long it takes to cook the s’mores. Which cooker got hotter? Which one baked more quickly? Why do you think it was faster?
  19. When your marshmallows are almost done, add the chocolate to the s’mores, wait a minute for it to get soft, and enjoy a tasty treat!

Can you think up an even better Solar Cooker design? You will need a container for the air, like a shoebox or a plastic container; something to let the sun shine in, like plastic wrap; and materials that help absorb the sunlight, like black paper. Build your Solar Cooker and compare its cooking time with the ones you’ve already tested. Did you improve the cooking time? Did the cooker get hotter? What did you change about the Solar Cooker design? What materials did you use to build it? Why do you think it was or wasn’t faster?

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