Activity Overview: There are many different types of energy, including light energy and heat energy. Solar energy, meaning from the sun, creates both heat energy and light energy. To demonstrate the types of energy that the sun creates, we are going to make a solar oven.
Time: 20-25 minutes for the solar oven build. 5-10 minutes for ingredients preparation and cooking.
Materials: Marshmallows, Graham Crackers, Chocolate Pieces, Aluminum Foil, Cardboard Box, Piece of Cardboard Larger Than the Box
Preparation: Make sure your cardboard piece can be leaned against the box where a large portion of the top covers the top of the box. Alternatively, you can use a pizza box and cut out a small part of the top of the box to lean open in place of the cardboard piece.
CAUTION: S’mores and ingredients may be hot. Be careful when touching and eating the cooked s’mores.
After you have filled and set the solar oven, place another set of ingredients outside the box. Ask students to monitor the "cooking" of the s'mores inside and outside the solar oven. What do they observe? Those inside the oven will melt faster than those outside due to the reflection and intensification of the sun's heat.
If you have access to an oven thermometer or a wired thermometer probe, such as the ones used with grilling or barbecuing meat, take a measurement of the temperature inside the box. Compare this with the temperature reading outside the box. Show students how the reflection of the sun's rays has increased the temperature. Exercise caution around all heat sources, even those powered by the sun.
WPSU Penn State PBS has produced a robust set of instructions to create your solar oven using a pizza box, aluminum foil, and black construction paper. You can find their instructions and video on PBS LearningMedia.
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