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The Science Behind Solar Ovens

Summer is here! The weather is warmer and the sun is shining high and bright. There are so many different science activities that make use of the sun. Let's learn about one that is included in the July STEM Kit - solar ovens. Thanks to a little know-how and some sunlight, you can actually cook using the power of the sun!

You’re probably wondering, "How can the sun can cook something when it’s 94.469 million miles away from the Earth?!" Let’s get into the science behind this fun (and tasty) solar experiment and find out why the sun is one of the best chefs in our solar system.

A Quick Look At The Science Behind Solar Ovens

  • Lining a box in reflective foil focuses the sun’s rays

  • Reflecting the sun’s rays into the solar oven heats up the air inside

  • Plastic wrap acts as the insulation in a house, keeping colder air from getting in and the heat from getting out

  • Since the air can’t escape easily, the oven stays warm and cooks the food

How It Works

Solar ovens are a little different than the oven you have in your kitchen. By heating up the air inside the solar oven using the power of the sun, you can cook things without electricity.

Using only a box, some household scissors (with the help of an adult), aluminum foil, and plastic wrap, you can heat food up quickly and easily so long as the sun is shining. The plastic wrap over the top opening of the solar oven helps keep the air inside. Since the air cannot easily escape, inside the box stays hot, turning a regular box into the perfect oven environment.

A Tastier Greenhouse

Greenhouses work in a similar way to solar ovens since they help keep warm air close to the plants to help them grow faster.

Of course, you wouldn’t be able to cook food in a greenhouse, since it doesn’t get hot enough, which is where the aluminum foil comes into play. The sun’s rays reflect off the foil, which directs the rays where you want them to go.

If you’ve ever spent any time out in the sun, you know that standing directly under the sun is much warmer than being in the shade. By tilting the foil-lined part of the box just right, you can make sure each side of your food item is completely saturated by the sunlight.

Thanks to the sun’s rays, you can turn a normal box into a powerful oven. By trapping air inside of the box and focusing the sun’s light using aluminum foil, you can cook food in your own backyard. By reflecting the sunlight back into the box, the solar oven helps the insides of the box heat up faster than the air outside, which in turn cooks the food. In about an hour, you can have delicious, melty s’mores using the incredible power of the sun.

Who knew the sun was so good at cooking?


Want to make your own solar oven? We're sending everything you need to do so in our July STEM Kit, "Bring The Heat!"

GIGIL STEM Subscription Boxes bring STEM Education to your doorstep, with 5 activities each month and all the supplies you need to complete them! Just open up your STEM Kit and go (easy)! We are also Mom's Choice Award and Parents' Picks winners!

Ready to start learning? Subscribe today and your first STEM Kit ships within 3-5 days!

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