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Harness the Sun's Power With a Science Project Building a Solar Cooker

written by: Elizabeth Wistrom • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/5/2012

Alternate forms of energy is a hot topic. A simple and fun activity when at home or in the classroom is building a solar cooker science project! The directions below are easy enough for a student to follow on their own, or for a class to build together -- cook S'mores for an added bonus!

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    Here is How it Works

    Before you begin, it is important that you understand the science behind your solar cooking project. The foil gathers light from the sun and reflects it into the oven at a strength that is actually double the amount gathered. The black paper, on the other hand, absorbs the light and changes it to heat. The clear plastic prevents the heat from escaping. On a hot day, the temperature in the oven can reach around 275 degrees.

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    Materials

    • Large pizza box
    • Pencil
    • Ruler
    • Knife
    • Aluminum Foil
    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Black construction paper
    • Clear packing tape
    • Clear plastic wrap
    • Graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows
    • Stick
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    Get The Sun On Your Side

    1. Close the pizza box. Using a pencil and ruler, draw a square that is one inch smaller than the pizza box on the top.
    2. Using the knife, but through the cardboard along three sides of the drawn square.
    3. Fold the cardboard up along the uncut side of the square to form a flap.
    4. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil long enough to fit the flap on the pizza box.
    5. Glue the foil, shiny side up, to the inside portion of the flap. Try to keep the foil as smooth while gluing.
    6. Tear off a second sheet of aluminum foil long enough to fit the inside bottom of the pizza box.
    7. Glue this second sheet of foil to the inside bottom of the box, and then tape black construction paper over the foil.
    8. Place pre-made S'more inside the box, on top of the black paper. (S'mores are layered - graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow).
    9. Using the clear plastic, cover the opening to the box created by the flap. Secure with clear packing tape. This plastic covering should be as air-tight as possible, to prevent heat from escaping during the cooking process.
    10. Place solar cooker outside in direct sunlight with flap open and facing the sun. You may need a stick to keep the flap propped open at an angle that reflects the most sunlight. This angle may need to be readjusted periodically, to maintain optimal cooking energy.
    11. Watch closely. Within one hour, your marshmallow and chocolate should be melted enough to add another graham cracker to the top.
    12. All that is left, is to eat and enjoy!
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    Once students learn about building a solar cooker, they can use it to cook a variety of other foods, such as hot dogs, banana boats, pizzas and even eggs. Have fun with this unique solar cooker science project, while you or your students learn a greater appreciation for the sun's power.