Solar Oven S'mores

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Can you make an oven without using electricity?

 

The "How To" From Science-U

You Will Need:

  • Pizza box
  • Aluminum foil
  • Black paper
  • Sheets of clear plastic
  • 2 Wooden skewers
  • Glue and tape
  • Exacto knife or scissors with adult supervision
  • Graham crackers
  • Chocolate
  • Marshmallows
  • A sunny day

Directions

  1. With an adult, cut a 3-sided flap on the top of the pizza box.
  2. Spread glue on the inside of the flap and cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Lay black paper in the bottom of the pizza box.
  4. Tape layers of clear plastic across the opening that you cut in the lid.
  5. Place a graham cracker, chocolate bar, and marshmallow inside the oven and close the lid with the flap propped open with wooden skewers.
  6. Aim your oven at the sun and let it do it's thing!

For educators and parents - How to guide young learners in science:

  • Inquiry-based learning (IBL) is a teaching approach that is fundamental for the development of higher order thinking skills (summarizing, analyzing, evaluating, creating). It puts the student in the driver's seat and promotes learning through engaging student-based investigations, following the same process used by scientists.
  • IBL begins by posing a question, problem, or scenario rather than simply presenting facts or a standard method to solve a problem. The learner is actively engaged and investigates concepts to reach authentic meaning.
  • The IBL process can vary, however the basics are as follows:

1. The student creates a testable question of their own.

2. The student obtains supporting evidence to answer the question by making observations, doing research, collecting data through an experiment, changing variables from a previous experiment, etc.

3. The student explains the evidence collected.

4. The student creates a claim (explanation) and justifies it using evidence form the investigation.

5. The student creates predictions for future investigations.

  • Recording information during the IBL process is also important to promote science literacy. The following chart is a helpful tool to guide students through the process.

Guided inquiry map

Questions to ask:

  • Time how long it takes for the marshmallow and chocolate to melt. Does the temperature outside make a difference as to how long it takes? Why?
  • How can you make it melt faster? What is the best angle of the aluminum foil lid?
  • Would it heat as quickly if you didn't have the plastic wrap over the hole or the black paper in the bottom? Why or why not?
  • If you put 4 s'mores in the box, does it take longer for all of them to melt compared to when you just had one?
  • Would this work in the winter? Try it!!!

The science behind it:

  • The sun is a big nuclear fusion reactor constantly sending energy in the form of solar radiation to the Earth.
  • The sunlight hits the aluminum foil, and based on the angle, it redirects it through the plastic window. This allows both direct and indirect reflected sunlight into the box where light energy is converted into heat energy. The black paper in the bottom of the box absorbs the light energy, and the plastic helps to trap some of the light energy in the box to heat the s'mores.
  • The concept behind creating the solar oven is just like the Earth's Greenhouse Effect. Our atmosphere naturally allows the Sun’s radiation to reach Earth’s surface and warm it. Some of the radiation is absorbed and some of it bounces off Earth’s surface and into the atmosphere.
    Naturally-occurring greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane and other gases – create a blanket-like effect (like the plastic in your pizza box) and trap the sun's radiation. This is why increased greenhouse gases would result in more heat being trapped on the surface of Earth, causing global warming. Greenhouse effect diagram

Resources:

  • Teaching Great Lakes Science (http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/lessons/teacher-tools/guided-inquiry-process/)
  • The Krazy Coupon Lady (http://thekrazycouponlady.com/family/summer-diy-make-a-solar-oven-using-a-pizza-box/)
  • World Wildlife Foundation (http://www.wwf.org.au/our_work/people_and_the_environment/global_warming_and_climate_change/science/what_is_global_warming/)
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