All Resources

Solar Oven

In this activity, students use various materials to focus the sun's rays in a solar oven and make solar s'mores!

In North America, we use electricity or gas to cook our food, however, over half the world's population uses wood or animal dung to cook. In fact, every year, almost 2 billion tones of wood is burned in cooking fires, releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

In the eighteenth century, Europeans discovered how to boil water by trapping the sun's energy as heat behind glass—a solar oven! The glass allows the sun's rays enter the oven. The rays are converted to heat energy and the glass prevents the heat from leaving.

Have you ever noticed how hot cars get when they are parked in the sun? Solar ovens can get very hot so be careful! 

Objectives

  • Observe and describe the effect of sunlight through a glass (greenhouse effect).

Materials

  • Per Demo or Group:
    cardboard box
    aluminum foil
    plastic wrap
    mirrors
    chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers
    small plates

Key Questions

  • How might we make the ovens hotter?

What To Do

  1. Cut the top off a cardboard box.
  2. Line the inside of the box with aluminum foil.
  3. Prepare s’mores—marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between graham crackers. Put a s’more on a plate inside the box.
  4. Place mirrors in various places around the inside of the box to direct and reflect the sun’s rays towards the s’more.
  5. Cover the top of the box in 4 layers of thick plastic wrap (to let light rays in and to keep the heat from escaping).

 

Extensions

  • Put a thermometer inside the solar oven and measure the temperature.
  • How might we insulate the container?
  • How much heat-absorbing material is useful?
  • How could the sun’s rays be directed more efficiently towards the box?

Other Resources

National Energy Board of Canada About Renewable Energy

BC Hyoro | Conservation

BC Hydro | Sustainability