STEM Activity for Kids: Solar Oven

Here is a fun STEM activity for kids to do outside on a sunny day! This STEM activity challenges kids to build a solar oven – an oven powered by the sun. Reuse Friday’s pizza box as a solar oven to make delicious s’mores.

s'mores

Materials

  • Cardboard pizza box
  • Black construction paper/A sheet of black paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Wooden skewer
  • Shipping tape electrical tape/ glue
  • Utility knife

Key Concepts

  • Absorption
  • Reflection
  • Solar Power

Questions You May Ask

  1. How did your solar oven work?
  2. What do you think is the purpose of the black paper?

How to make a solar oven

  1. Use a box knife or sharp scissors to cut a flap in the lid of the
    pizza box. Cut along three sides, leaving about an inch
    between the sides of the flap and the edges of the lid. Fold
    this flap out so that it stands up when the box lid is closed.
  2. Cover the inner side of the flap with
    aluminum foil.
  3. Use clear plastic wrap to create an airtight window
    for sunlight to enter the box.
  4. Line the bottom of the box with black paper.
  5. Place and secure a skewer on the top left corner of the
    cardboard and place the other end down to hold the foil-
    wrapped cardboard in place.
  6. Put your treats in the oven and wait to see them melting.

Scientific Facts

Heat and light are both different types of energy. Light energy can be converted into
heat energy. A black object absorbs all wavelengths of light and converts them into
heat, so the object gets warm. A white object reflects all wavelengths of light, so the
light is not converted into heat and the temperature of the object does not increase
noticeably.
The amount of heat absorbed is also affected by how light or dark an object is. A dark
object of a given color will absorb more photons than a light object of the same color,
so it will absorb more heat and get warmer.
The surface of aluminum has the ability NOT TO ABSORB, but TO REFLECT 95% of the
infrared rays which strike it. Since aluminum foil has such a low mass to air ratio, very
little conduction can take place, particularly when only 5% of the rays are absorbed.
Infrareds are in the form of photons, we cannot see them, but they can be absorbed
or reflected in the same way visible light can. Aluminum foil is effective at reflecting
these photons, thus reflecting most of the energy carried by them.

What is BrainSTEM?

BrainSTEM is an educational technology company created by a former rocket scientist who wanted to encourage students from all backgrounds to get passionate about STEM-related topics.