Ingredients: graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate, SUN!
With the days getting longer until the summer solstice, there’s plenty of sun for solar fun. One recipe for sweet solar success is melting s’mores in a Solar Oven—no campfire needed!
A cardboard-box solar oven that you make yourself, placed in a very sunny spot on a very warm day, can melt s’mores in just about 15 minutes, though building the solar oven will take a bit longer…
Whether you build your oven in advance, or have learners design and build with you, introduce the concept of solar energy before you start melting, suggests solar chef Josh Sarver. When not wearing his “chef’s hat,” Sarver is Senior Director of Experience Design and Production at COSI, a howtosmile.org national partner. He has seen that getting learners to think about energy before they use it deepens their scientific understanding.
Ask learners to share what they already know about heat from the Sun, he says, or talk about what energy sources their families use to heat food and water. Then get learners involved with choosing the sunniest location for their oven, setting it up, and of course putting the graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate all together. “Allowing kids to help direct the experience creates more interest among them, and expands the activity from just fun to guided inquiry,” Sarver observes.
You can expand the scope of learning even further (maybe after all the s’mores are happily and messily devoured) by showing pictures or talking about people in other countries where sources of heat energy, like wood or fuel oil, are harder to get and where solar energy can be critical to everyday life.
(Note: A tip from the COSI “solar kitchen”—repeated, and tasty, experimentation has shown that different brands of chocolate chips melt at different rates and in different ways. Chips with a waxier surface don’t melt quite as well!)
Photo courtesy savorysweetlife.com