Cook with a Solar Oven

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In this activity, learners make their own solar oven to bake s'mores and learn about how solar energy is absorbed on Earth. Learners investigate how simple material choices in their pizza box-oven help reflect (aluminum foil), absorb (black construction paper), and trap (plastic wrap) energy from the Sun. There is an optional step to add a thermometer in the oven to see how high the temperature can go. Step-by-step instructions are included with photos. This activity needs a sunny day. Activity guide includes a "What's going on?" explanation and connections to relevant science concepts around the oven material choices using helpful diagrams.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • one large pizza box
  • glue
  • aluminum foil
  • one sheet of black construction paper
  • clear plastic wrap
  • tape
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • marker
  • chocolate
  • marshmallows
  • graham crackers
  • plate
  • thermometer (optional)


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
    • Earth, Moon and Sun
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer

Informal Categories

  • Food and Cooking


Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • DIY Science Apps

Funding Source:

  • NASA, NNX10AE05G