Pizza Box Solar Cooker: Kids Science

Few things are more essential to a summer camping trip than marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Sure, you need a tent and a sleeping bag, but a campfire without s’mores just wouldn’t be the same. Fortunately you don’t have to plan a camping trip to enjoy these gooey treats. In fact, you don’t even need a campfire. With a few recycled materials you can construct a solar oven to whip up s’mores anytime of the year. You can always pitch a tent in your backyard if you want a more authentic camping experience.

Materials:
• Pizza box
• Aluminum foil
• Black construction paper
• Clear plastic wrap
• Scissors
• Tape
• Glue
• Pencil or pen
• Sheet of notebook paper
• Wooden dowel or stick
• Paper plate or pie tin
• Marshmallows
• Chocolate
• Graham crackers


To Do:
 1.) Close the box and lay a piece of notebook paper in the center of the lid. Trace the paper with a pen or pencil.
 2.) Set the piece of paper aside.
 3.) Carefully cut along three lines of the rectangle that you drew on the box. Be careful not to cut along all four lines. You want to leave one side uncut so that you can fold the cardboard up to create a flap.
 4.) Use glue or tape to cover the inside of the flap with aluminum foil. Smooth out as many wrinkles as possible.
 5.) Cut a piece of plastic wrap that is slightly larger than the open square on the top of the pizza box. Stretch the plastic wrap across the opening and tape it down on all four sides to form a good seal.
 6.) Open the box and cover the bottom and sides with aluminum foil. You can use glue or tape to attach the foil to the inside of the box.
 7.) Place a piece of black construction paper on top of the foil in the bottom of the box and tape it in place.
 8.) Put a paper plate or pie tin containing your s’more ingredients in the center of the black paper.
 9.) Carefully close the box top and use a dowel or stick to prop open the flap.
10.) You are now ready to start cooking. Take the oven outside and put it in a sunny location. Turn the box so that the foil-covered flap is facing the sun. You might need to adjust the placement of the dowel so that the sunlight is reflected off of the flap and into the box.
11.) Check on your cooker every 15 minutes until your s’more is ready to eat.


Now Try This:

See if you can speed up the cooking time by adding insulation to your cooker. Try placing wads of newspaper or aluminum foil along the inside of the box. Experiment with different materials until you figure out what works best.


What’s Going On?
Your solar cooker works by converting sunlight into heat energy and then trapping the heat inside the box. This is similar to a car that has been sitting in the sun all day. When sunlight hits an object, one of three things can happen. The light can pass through the object, it can be absorbed by the object or it can be reflected by the object. In your cooker, the light is reflected off of the shiny surface of the aluminum foil and then passes through the clear plastic wrap. The light is absorbed by the black construction paper, which causes the paper and the air inside the box to heat up. Over time, the temperature in the box gets hot enough to melt marshmallows and chocolate.

-----------------------
Debbie DeRoma is the education manager at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

Warty Licorice

Warty Licorice

Can you make a smooth piece of licorice grow warts? Do this science experiment with the kids to find out!Time: 5 minutesSkill level: Get a grown-upSuppliesTwizzlers licorice twists (the Pull-n-Peel va . . .

Read more

How to Make a Box Oven

How to Make a Box Oven

There are several different types of box ovens you can make. These instructions are for a box oven with a hinged lid. If you use the sturdy materials recommended and take good care of it, you should b . . .

Read more

Build a Rocket

Build a Rocket

Imagine sweeping the dust from a giant rock formation to uncover an ancient dinosaur fossil, or peering through your backyard telescope to identify a hazy comet as it streaks across the sky. Sound exc . . .

Read more

Saltwater Gummi Soak

Saltwater Gummi Soak

The kids will get a lesson about osmosis with this science experiment using gummi worms!Time: Two daysSkill Level: MediumSupplies4 gummi worms or other gummi candy3 small clear bowls, each with 1 cup . . .

Read more

Straw Gliders

Straw Gliders

The next time you visit the beaches near Torrey Pines or La Jolla, be sure to look up at the sky. You may notice many colorful gliders soaring high above the ground. These gliders provide the ultimate . . .

Read more

Acid Dissolving Test

Acid Dissolving Test

Here’s an easy, kid-friendly science project you can do at home!Time: 1 hourSkill level: MediumYour digestive system uses acid. Does that mean that acid dissolves candy?What you need:Candy that diss . . .

Read more

Candy Chromatography

Candy Chromatography

Many science experiments involve candy. Follow the directions below to find out how you can use science to determine how candies get their colors. Materials:Coffee filtersClear jars or cupsPencilTap . . .

Read more

DIY Science Kit

DIY Science Kit

“Mom, do you have a 6-volt battery, two funnels, masking tape and some steel wool I can use?” My daughters ask questions like this, usually when I’m up to my elbows in dirty dishes. Buying scien . . .

Read more

Pizza Box Solar Cooker: Kids Science

Pizza Box Solar Cooker: Kids Science

Few things are more essential to a summer camping trip than marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers. Sure, you need a tent and a sleeping bag, but a campfire without s’mores just wouldn’t be t . . .

Read more

Boogie Woogie Raisins: Kids Science

Boogie Woogie Raisins: Kids Science

Have you ever seen raisins dance the tango or spaghetti noodles do the hula? Follow the directions below to find out how to create your own performing raisins. Believe it or not, you don’t even need . . .

Read more

San Diego Family Magazine Logo

Be Family Informed – Sign up for our Newsletters below!