Activity – Solar Energy: Making a Solar Oven

solar oven


Title: Solar Energy – Making a Solar Oven
Grade: 5th Grade
Duration: Varies

In this lab, students will conduct an investigation to see if the light and heat emitted from the sun is powerful enough cook themselves a tasty treat!

Problem Statement

Can you use solar power to cook food?


Each group will need:

  • Cardboard pizza box
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Aluminum foil
  • Aluminum pie plates
  • Tape
  • Black construction paper
  • Plastic wrap
  • Thermometer (optional)


Make sure to follow the following procedures. Watch closely in order to make observations about what occurs and document what happens.

  1. First, make sure that it is a sunny, warm day (at least 80 degrees).
  2. Obtain a pizza box from your favorite pizza restaurant  or your local food supply store (any size will do).
  3. Line your pizza box and line the bottom of the pizza box with black construction paper (the color black absorbs heat well).
  4. Next, cover the entire lid (inside and out) and all the sides with aluminum foil (the aluminum foil will help reflect the sun’s rays onto the food).
  5. Now it is time to decide what tasty treat you would like to make. WARNING: Do not and raw meat/chicken/eggs because they may not cook all the way through and could make you sick. You can choose to make a pizza with a tortilla as the crust, tomato sauce, and some cheese or some gooey s’mores with graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. It is up to you!
  6. Place your desired food choice on an aluminum pie plate and place it on the center of the black construction paper.
  7. Wrap the bottom with plastic wrap and secure with tape. Thee plastic wrap acts as a greenhouse roof that allows the sun to reflect and also help to retain the heat in the box. It also ensures that no creepy crawlies get to savor your food before you do.
  8. Position the lid of the pizza box in a way to reflect the most sun onto the food. Use a pencil or other object to prop the lid remains in this position.
  9. Make observations about every 15-30 minutes. Solar ovens take time, so don’t expect a quick meal. CAUTIONMake sure to be careful when checking the food. The oven can get very hot! You can place a thermometer in the box to see how hot it is in there (optional).
  10. After about 45 minutes to an hour, test food to make sure it is cooked. If it is not, if it is cooked, you may eat it. If not check back on it again in about 15 -30 minutes!
  11. Enjoy your treat!
  12. Reflect:
  • What happened?
  • Did the solar oven get hot? How hot? (if you had a thermometer)
  • How long did it take to cook your delicious treat?
  • What can you change in the design of your solar oven to make it better?
  • How will these changes improve upon the current design?