Reflective Solar Cooker

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this activity, learners use the Sun's energy to cook marshmallows. Learners construct the solar oven out of simple everyday materials. They experiment to see how the color of the marshmallow (vanilla or chocolate) and height of the straws affect cooking time. Use this activity to introduce learners to solar energy and reflection. Note: this activity requires adult supervision.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • shoebox
  • aluminum foil
  • string
  • tape
  • straws
  • manila folder
  • marshmallows (white and chocolate, or other color)
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • timer/watch


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Technology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat Transfer
    • Energy
    • Vibration and Waves
      • Light and Optics
    • Light and Optics
      • Reflection and Refraction
      • Sunlight and Color
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment

Informal Categories

  • Outdoor Activity
  • Food and Cooking
  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Education and Outreach Office, McDonald Observatory


  • All rights reserved, The University of Texas McDonald Observatory, 2011