Cool Science Experiments for Kids: DIY Solar Oven

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During the day, I often hear the children (usually Austin), remind someone to not forget to turn off the lights, or the television or something else that is no longer being used.  I guess I have stressed enough that we want to do not want to be wasteful rather we want to be as energy-efficient as we can, enough that they are finally taking notice themselves.

For an average six-year-old, when you ask them what they want to be when they grow up what responses do you usually hear?  Doctor, Princess, Fire Fighter, Nurse?  Not my six-year-old.  He wants to do volunteer work to help others, which I am very proud if, but also wants to work at a recycle center.  Yep, those are his own responses!  It makes me smile from ear to ear but I can’t help but chuckle a little when he talks about it.

Every cardboard box that enters the house or milk carton that is used would typically be recycled, however since my children have fallen in love with crafting, they now do not want to recycle anything, they want to repurpose EVERYTHING!  What can we make with this milk carton today?  Let’s make a bird feeder!  A Kleenex box, let’s turn it into a covered wagon.  I love it!

In science, we have been learning about the weather and solar energy.   So, as cool science experiments for kids (of any age) are so much fun, I decided I would show the children the power of solar energy on a very small-scale.  I had Daddy save a pizza box from the Galleria and bring it home.  Then I sent the kids on a hunt for the other items we would need.  They thought it was fun searching for them and trying to figure out what in the world we would do with them!

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What you will need to make a diy Pizza Box Solar Oven:

  • Cardboard pizza box
  • Tin foil
  • Strong tape
  • Plastic wrap or zip-lock bag or produce bag
  • Shredded newspaper (optional)
  • Xacto knife or Scissors

Key to remember, the inside and the contents will become hot.  Always use caution when handling scissors and anything hot;  have an adult assist you.

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To begin, on the lid of the pizza box, draw your lines to cut along.

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Then cut along the three lines about an inch or two away from the edge, leaving the back side where it attaches to the box intact.  This will give you a flap to open and close.

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Cover the inner side of the flap that will be facing the inside of the pizza box in tin foil.

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Now cover the whole you cut out with plastic wrap and tape the edges pulling smoothly.  This is going to give you a window.

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Cover the bottom of the box with tin foil.  If you desire to insulate your oven, place shredded newspaper along the sides of the box.

This experiment works best on a hot sunny day but even in winter, the sun can provide a good deal of heat.  The snow is amazing in reflecting the sun’s light.  Preheat your oven by setting it in a position that will receive direct sunlight.  Prop open the flap of the lid so that it reflects the sunlight onto the plastic wrap.

After you have preheated your oven (time will depend on the temperature, we did for an hour on a winter day), place your food on a safe dish and inside the solar oven.  Close the lid with the window and then position the top flap so that it will reflect the sun into the window.   It will take on average, about two times as long to cook in the solar oven as it would a conventional oven.  Be patient and check its progress every so often!  It is really cool to see the kids light up when they realize how resourceful we can be.

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To help speed the process along, we are going to try placing the oven in a car that is in the sunlight.  We are going to paint the inside of a box black to see if it impacts the cooking time.  I can’t wait to try this out in warmer weather to show the children how outside factors all play a part.  We will be sharing a few of our results very soon!

Solar cooking is the most energy-efficient option available as it saves money and improves the quality of our life.  We learned about solar energy and found ways to reduce our need for man-made energy and used repurposed/recycled materials so we did something good for the environment to boot!   Save tin foil from other purposes, use a plastic bag that comes with an item to prevent buying one.

There are so many ways we can daily reduce our environmental impact.  Check out some of the tips below:

This is our home and it is our job to care for it.  Science experiments like this diy solar oven gives me a great opportunity to teach my children about ways we can impact the environment while teaching them about nature.  We have many more science experiments to share coming in 2015!

What would you try to cook in your diy pizza box solar oven?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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