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Free Educational Solar Oven Project for Middle School

A solar oven project is a great activity to use in middle school. 

One of the best ways to reinforce science concepts is through hands-on activities with your students. These can be experiments: Students develop a hypothesis, format a procedure, and compile their results. This will help them with scientific theory and let them see how a real-life science experiment is conducted. 

A bonus is when an experiment explores these scientific principles and is fun and engaging for the student – like this solar oven project

Plus, this one ends up with a tasty treat!

What Is A Solar Oven?

By definition, “solar” is related to the sun, and “oven” is a closed-in vessel for cooking food. With that being said, a solar oven is a vessel for cooking food that uses the heat of the sun to cook. 

Think of the saying, “It’s like an oven in here,” when you get into a hot car. The same theory holds true with a solar oven. The question is: can the sun heat up a homemade oven so much that it can actually cook food? And if it does, how does it work? 

This is where the solar oven project comes in. 

Why Make A Solar Oven With Students?

Creating a solar oven with your students is a great way to reinforce concepts when learning about heat and energy. While students can learn by watching a video or reading a book, using the hands-on task of creating their own solar ovens through this solar oven project is both satisfying and a perfect learning tool. 

With this solar oven project, students will: 

  • Learn how to set up an experiment on paper, creating a hypothesis as to what they think will happen.
  • Brainstorm what materials will and won’t work to create a solar oven.
  • Come up with a procedure for creating their solar ovens and how they will conduct their experiment once the oven is built.
  • Create a lab report documenting their successes and outlining any questions they might have.

With this solar oven project, students will ultimately learn how the solar oven operates. Light from the sun enters the oven, creating additional light that bounces off the aluminum foil. 

This light enters the glass bowl and is converted to thermal energy. Students will learn how the black paper acts as a heat sink, and the glass bowl acts as a thermal insulator. 

Not only will this experiment be fun and engaging for your students, but it can also open up a dialogue about what else could be cooked in a solar oven and how their solar ovens could be improved. 

This solar oven project can also open a more in-depth discussion on heat and energy in the environment. 

Materials Needed For a Solar Oven Project

To start this solar oven project and create your solar oven, you will need the following materials: 

  • Pizza boxes, shoe boxes, cereal boxes, Amazon boxes (1 per student or group)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Ruler/stick
  • Small pieces of cardboard or thick paper
  • Black paper
  • Glass bowls
  • Thermometers
  • Oven mitts
  • S’mores ingredients (e.g., marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers)

You can also brainstorm with your students to see if any other materials might work for their solar oven or if there is food other than s’mores that could be cooked. 

How To Make A Solar Oven? 

To create a solar oven, you must prepare the box (your oven) and the heat reflector (the heat source for cooking).  

  1. Cover the inside of the box with aluminum foil, and make sure to tape or glue it down. 
  2. Prop the box open with a stick or ruler.
  3. Cut the black paper so it fits in the bottom of the box. 
  4. Cut the pie dish so it makes a little dish inside the oven—this should be smaller than the diameter of the glass bowl. 
  5. Assemble the s’more with everything minus the top graham cracker. 
  6. Place the glass bowl on top. 
  7. Make sure the oven is facing the sun.
  8. Watch the s’more cook and record observations. 
  9. Carefully remove the s’more and add the top graham cracker.
  10.  Eat and enjoy!

Students will check the temperature of their ovens inside the glass bowl with a thermometer every 15 minutes. Ensure students use an oven mitt, as the glass bowl will get hot during the cooking process! 

This free Solar Oven Project walks students through creating a solar oven to make s’mores. 

Students will use the scientific method and work through all the steps to design and build their own solar ovens. Grab the solar oven project here

Additional Science Resources

Are you looking for no prep ready-to-go science units for your classes? Check out these middle school resources:

What Teachers Are Saying About 2 Peas and a Dog Science Resources:

Grade 8 Science Cells Ontario Curriculum 

“This is hands down the BEST resource I have ever bought on TPT. It makes my life as a teacher so easy as there is very little prep. My students love all the activities – it keeps even my most difficult students engaged and focused. I highly recommend this resource, you will not be disappointed with your purchase!!” – Kaylie C.

Grade 7 Science Bundle Ontario Curriculum 

“Incredibly happy with the purchase of this grade seven science science bundle. Well worth the money. As I am new to grade seven, this has made planning for both in persona nd online very easily planned out and student friendly to use. Looking forward to more future purchases. Thanks to this TPT seller for helping out other teachers by creating such well thought out resources that are so easy to use.” – Catherine C.

Grade 6 Science Biodiversity Unit Ontario Curriculum 

“This is such a wonderful resource.  I really appreciate that it’s been updated to align with the 2022 curriculum.  After printing out this resource, I could tell right away that it was exactly what I was looking for.  It’s very organized, not cluttered, and has incredible graphics to help with learning.  Such a valuable resource that covers all of the expectations.  Well done!” – Diedre S. 

Grade 7 Science Understanding Structures and Mechanisms 

“I LOVE these products for my class. First year teaching 7/8 and they have been a life saver for my sanity. Having easy to use, low prep, easy to follow activities allowed me to actively teach my class and spend less time trying to figure out “how” or “what” I was going to teach!” – Diana B.

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