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Great Kids Project: Building a Solar Oven...
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Materials:

  • Cardboard pizza box
  • Box knife or scissors
  • Aluminum foil
  • Clear tape
  • Plastic wrap (a heavy-duty or freezer zip lock bag will also work)
  • Black construction paper
  • Newspapers
  • Ruler, or wooden spoon

How to build:

make-a-pizza-box-solar-ovenUse a box knife or sharp scissors to cut a flap in the lid of the pizza box. Cut along three sides, leaving about an inch between the sides of the flap and the edges of the lid. Fold this flap out so that it stands up when the box lid is closed.

  1. Cover the inner side of the flap with aluminum foil so that it will reflect rays from the sun. To do this, tightly wrap foil around the flap, then tape it to the back, or outer side of the flap.
  2. Use clear plastic wrap to create an airtight window for sunlight to enter into the box. Do this by opening the box and taping a double layer of plastic wrap over the opening you made when you cut the flap in the lid. Leave about an inch of plastic overlap around the sides and tape each side down securely, sealing out air. If you use a plastic bag, cut out a square big enough to cover the opening, and tape one layer over the opening.
  3. Line the bottom of the box with black construction paper - black absorbs heat. The black surface is where your food will be set to cook.
  4. To insulate your oven so it holds in more heat, roll up sheets of newspaper and place them on the bottom of the box. Tape them down so that they form a border around the cooking area. The newspaper rolls should make it so that the lid can still close, but there is a seal inside of the box, so air cannot escape.
  5. The best hours to set up your solar oven are when the sun is high overhead - from 11 am to 3 pm. Take it outside to a sunny spot and adjust the flap until the most sunlight possible is reflecting off the aluminum foil and onto the plastic-covered window. Use a ruler to prop the flap at the right angle. You may want to angle the entire box by using a rolled up towel.
  6. You can make toast by buttering a slice of bread, or sprinkling cheese on it, then letting the sun do the rest. So the paper at the bottom doesn't get dirty, put what you would like to cook on a clear plastic or glass plate.
  7. Your solar oven will reach about 200° F on a sunny day, and will take longer to heat things than a conventional oven. To take food out open up the lid of the pizza box, and using oven mitts lift the glass dish out of the oven.
 
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