April 21, 2018

Solar Cooking Demonstrations

Solar cooking is a great outreach program you can do with feeder schools in your district or at an Earth Day Celebration. It would be a great way to teach students about how much energy and power the sun is able to produce.

Solar cooking is not only fun, but it’s a great educational tool. Solar cookers work using the greenhouse effect to trap energy. Students have experienced the greenhouse effect many times when they’ve opened a car door, only to find the car interior warm on a cold winter day or extremely hot on a summer day.

There is a wide variety of solar cookers students may build, some of which can be constructed during a class period and others which may require a whole day.

Solar box cookers constructed using cardboard, newspaper, aluminum foil, and a piece of glass, will typically cook at temperatures between 225 – 275 F. (Crock Pots cook at 185 F.)

It is a real oven and will cook most anything you would put in your oven at home. It is considered a slow cooker, usually taking about twice as long as your conventional oven. Put your food out early and you can run errands, etc. and not worry about your home burning down. The food can be left unattended for hours without fear of overcooking or burning. Unlike your oven, the solar cooker does not add heat to the kitchen.

There’s no need to rotate the oven to follow the sun with single reflector designs, though it will improve cooking times. You can take a solar oven to the beach or camping, and you can also use it to pasteurize water. When solar cooking as a public demonstration choose foods that do not require pasteurization (e.g. meats and eggs) and follow good hygienic practices. Hot dogs or packaged cookie dough are easy, safe choices.

Solar Cookout

It is very popular on campuses to have a cookout to raise money for a project or cause. Our suggestion is to make it a Solar Cookout. Building solar cookers can be very simple. There are many types of cookers and choosing the right cooker is easy once you know what you are cooking. Watt Watchers has a solar cooking traveling energy exploration station that you can check out and use to help you in building your cookers for your cookout. The important key for this project is the SUN!