Solar Power 

Astronauts on the International Space Station (the "ISS") capture the power of the sun using solar panels. They use this solar energy to power the instruments on the ISS. Capture the power of the sun to cook food in a solar powered oven!

Video Courtesy NASA

Solar Oven 

Materials
  • Pizza Box

  • Plastic Wrap

  • Black Construction Paper

  • Chopstick

  • Aluminum foil 

  • Scissor 

  • Tape

  • Glue Stick

  • Printable cutout sheet for this activity (found at bottom of Cosmoto's Week 4 Site Page)

  • Food item(s) to cook in oven:  Pizza: shredded or finely diced cheese (e.g., mozzarella), marinara / pizza sauce, and bagel / bread slice / english muffin.  Smores: graham crackers, marshmallow, and milk chocolate bar.              

Materials for Solar Oven:
Ingredients for Cheese Pizza:
Ingredients for S'mores:
Step 1

Draw straight lines 2 inches from the edge of the pizza box on the 3 sides that can be lifted open (i.e., that are unattached to the box).  

Step 2

Cut through these 3 lines. This will create a fall in the pizza box.

Step 3

While keeping the new lid open, wrap plastic wrap over the new opening in the pizza box as pictured below. Use tape to secure it.

Step 4

Optional:  Lift the flap with the 3 side borders.  Wrap plastic wrap over the underside of this flap opening and use tape to secure it as pictured below. This step will help to further insulate the oven.

Step 5

Wrap the bottom of the pizza box with aluminum foil.

Step 6

Place a sheet of black construction paper on the bottom of the pizza box. Tape it in place.

Step 7

Wrap the lid of the pizza box in aluminum foil.

Step 8

Make a small hole in the side of the pizza box with a scissor. Insert the chopstick through the hole.

Step 9

Tape each end of the chopstick to the pizza box as pictured below. Cut out the rectangle on the printable cutout sheet for this activity and tape it to the pizza box as shown below. You have now completed the building of your solar oven!

Cooking Steps
Step A

Position your solar oven facing the sun. For best results, use your solar oven between 11 am and 2 pm.  Preheat your oven -- leave it out in the sun for 20-30 minutes before placing any food inside.

Step B

Prepare the food for cooking. I baked pizza bites and s'mores.  

 

For cheese pizza, spread marinara/pizza sauce on top of an english muffin/bread slice or bagel.  Sprinkle shredded/diced cheese on top of sauce.

For s'mores, place a marshmallow on top of a graham cracker.  Cut a piece of a chocolate bar as needed to fit on top of the marshmallow.  Then, place the milk chocolate on top of the marshmallow.  

Step C

Lift open the plastic wrapped flap of your solar oven.  Place the food inside your solar oven by placing it directly on top of the black construction paper. Then, close the plastic wrapped flap of your solar oven. Bake until the food is done in the solar oven (cheese is melted on the pizza) (chocolate is melted on the s'more), checking every 10 minutes.  Cooking times vary depending on the weather's temperature or how strong the sun's rays are during the time you use your solar oven. On a windy day, you may need to place fairly light objects on top of the flap borders of your solar oven, as weights, so that the flap is not lifted open by the wind (but be sure that these objects do not cast any shadows on the food you are cooking.) It took about 30 minutes for me to cook the pizza bites and s'mores.

Before

After

Images of Pillars of Creation, Future Mars Base, Curiosity Rover, Milky Way, Moon, and International Space Station are courtesy of NASA. Image of Earth's atmosphere courtesy of Science Museum of Exploration.