2009 Submission Showcase

Read descriptions, see photos and borrow recipes from the 2009 Solar Oven Challenge.

Banded Peak School, Grade 7, Bragg Creek, AB
Honours with Distinction

Oven 1.

SOC 2009

The solar oven project was given to us by our science teacher and took us about two months to complete at school. During this time, we worked on other things while we waited for the sun to shine so that we could test our solar ovens. It was a long process that started with collecting and measuring boxes and then spending the afternoons cutting and gluing until we had panels to build the funnel to absorb sunlight. We used duck tape to tape these panels into a funnel and then we found a box and assembled our solar ovens. We saved paper and shredded it to make insulation for our solar ovens and painted tinfoil cooking tins black to absorb the sunlight.

We ran into a few difficulties on the way to completion: we ran out of tinfoil, paint and glue, the paint and glue mixture wouldn't stick the cooking tins, and the duck tape wasn't the best at keeping our solar ovens together. After many fix ups and redo's, our solar ovens where completed and we tested them on the first sunny day that came along. We found that the solar ovens heated up pretty quickly to an average temperature of about 300—350 degrees Fahrenheit. We used this knowledge and found recipes to cook in our solar ovens. Many people were not very creative and cooked s'mores. We chose a recipe for chocolate chip cookie pizza. It sounds disgusting, but they turned out well and we topped them with fruit, chocolate sauce and smarties. All in all, this entire project was a fun use of science class — much better than taking notes, with tasty snacks as a bonus.

Oven 2.

For our project we created a solar oven. It was an individual project where we were put into groups of three to make the solar ovens. The solar ovens were made during school time; we made them with a box that had four panels that were covered in tinfoil so it would attract heat. In the center of our solar oven, we had a tinfoil dish that was painted black so it would attract the sunlight. The purpose of the solar ovens was to prepare and cook food without using any electricity to save the environment. To cook the food, we used the sun's thermal energy to heat our solar ovens, which then cooked our food. When building these solar ovens, we learned that conservation of energy is very important and that a small thing such as the solar oven can make a big difference in our environment.

After completing this project, my group has discovered that when cooking in a solar oven it takes patience and time to allow your food to cook, when using the sun's heat. Another thing we discovered to help your solar oven gain heat faster and easier is you can tip your solar oven towards the sun's rays. The reason for this is because the more rays that reach the solar oven helps cook the food faster, and by tipping it you are allowing all the sun in that direction to heat the food.

SOC 2009

One building tip that we have for building the solar oven is when pasting tinfoil onto the cardboard sheets, remember to make it as smooth as you can and not allow any crinkles in the tinfoil. The reason for this is so that the sunlight can reflect better off the smooth foil allowing it to collect more rays of sun, which heats up the solar oven faster and hotter. Another tip to building a great solar oven is to make sure there are no cracks were light can escape, the reason for this is it helps the solar oven warm up faster and also helps improves its ability to collect heat and cook the food. Overall after this project my group found that is was an interesting experience, and a good use of class time.

Oven 3.

Our solar oven model was built in a way that the top opened and the bottom was a small enclosed space where the food was cooked. It was hand-made out of materials such as cardboard, tin foil and glue. The solar oven we built did not have a large volume, but we were able to put enough food in small quantities for about four people. This project was constructed by a group of three grade 7/8 students. It was made to cook food using less energy, as we learned to be more environmentally friendly.

SOC 2009

One issue we encountered while making the actual solar oven was that the cardboard curved inwards and was not as straight as it should have been. Yhis caused our solar oven to have holes on the sides, where the light could shine through and the heat escape. When we were testing the oven, to see how hot it got, it didn't heat up to a very high temperature. Our group thought there wasn't enough sunlight shining on the oven's base, because of the many shadows within the oven. Overall this project was a success, and we had a lot of fun making it.

Oven 4.

SOC 2009

Our solar oven had not heated properly on test day, because our bag was not airtight and it wasn't properly tilted towards the sun. On cooking day, it heated at the same pace as everyone else's and then some. Also, we had finished before all of the other groups. However, the smores were disgusting. Even though normally smores are AH-MAZING, ours tasted like the black paint that we used to coat the inside of the oven tin, and the plastic of the bag that we put the pan in. It was really cool to watch the bag inflate with the hot air collecting in it at the beginning of the cooking day. The solar ovens were generally successful. Sure, we could have been a BIT more creative but sometimes it is the classics that get the best results! The smores were so yucky. We hated them very much. But the solar oven worked really well to melt the marshmallows. The marshmallows were really gooshy. We also thought that the other groups smores were kind of sort of maybe kind of sort of maybe a tiny bit better. The solar ovens were extraordinary!

Oven 5.

SOC 2009

We did the solar oven challenge, which means we had to cook something in our oven. Our group cooked a cheesy bean dip/meal, and it was cooked and a success. The reason for the success I think was that it was in the direct way of the sun so it could bounce off the aluminum foil to make its way to the tin tray in the bag and in the painted tin. This resulted in heating and cooking the food. I also think that we could have picked something that was easier to cook like quesadillas or anything that is a good meal but involves less. The plastic cover helped cook the food because the sun would heat up the cover which cooked/heated the meal. Another reason why the coking wasn't as successful as it could have been is because the insulation is just shredded paper and nothing more advanced.

I think that overall our cooking was a great success because the heat was bouncing off the sides and heated the tin with the cheesy beans in it and cooked the food and it didn't take that long.

Oven 6.

We have been making and preparing solar ovens for about the last month and a half. Our oven worked very well on test day and on cooking day. I think that next time we should have definitely challenged ourselves more on what we were cooking. We cooked s'mores and we managed to make two delicious batches to eat and share. As successful as we were, I would have been much happier if we made something harder, like meat, and did okay, than do excellent but make something really easy. The building of our oven went flawlessly. We had enough cardboard and the instructions were fairly easy to understand.

SOC 2009

The most challenging part was painting the larger tin box. We could never get the black paint to a perfect viscosity when the paint would not run down the walls. From this project, we learned that after light enters through some substances (like plastic bags) they can't get out, therefore creating a greenhouse effect. We also learned that the ray of reflection always equals the ray of incidence and that is why the mouth of the solar oven is slanted in, so that more light and therefore heat is directed to the cooking chamber. We also learned that a rough reflective surface does not reflect light properly, but disorders it in every which way. I think that overall solar ovens were a successful experiment and it would be a good learning experience for the grade sevens next year.

Oven 7.

Our solar over was built for a class project. We all built the same design; square shape with tin foil on the inside with a black, metal tin in it to hold the food that we needed to cook. We built the oven by cutting triangles out of cardboard and coated them with glue and spread the tin foil on as smooth as possible so the sun wouldn't be reflected off all of the small surfaces. When it had dried, we taped the four triangles together, and we placed the square in a small box so our oven would stand up and we filled the box with shredded paper for insulation. We painted a foil tin black so it would absorb the heat of the sun. We placed the food in a smaller tin and put our solar oven in the sun.

SOC 2009

We had a bit of trouble with the heat in our oven because we didn't factor in the fact that the sun moves across the sky so it moved away from our oven. We still got our oven up to 150 degrees Celsius, even though there were some clouds. When you make a solar oven, make sure that you angle the oven towards the sun so it can get as much light as possible. Also keep in mind that you should try and make the paint on the tin foil tin as even as you can make it so the heat is evenly distributed. Most important, make sure you have lots of fun!

Oven 8.

SOC 2009

We believe that the most important thing if you want to have great results with your solar oven is that the tinfoil on the inside is all extremely flat and has no wrinkles. This will make sure that all of the heat that enters the oven goes directly to the food and that no heat escapes. Our model had four sides with two of them measuring 65cm, 30cm, 60cm. The second two should measure 50cm, 60cm, and 15 cm. We also filled the bottom of the bow with shredded paper so that the container will fit right at the bottom of the four walls of tin foil. This way, absolutely minimal heat and energy will escape the oven.

I learned that solar ovens are a very effective way to cook a simple meal that doesn't need tons of heat to cook. It also is a very inexpensive and fun project for almost any grade level or age. Our biggest challenge was trying to find a box that was the perfect size to close off the bottom of the oven. One thing that I found was very fun and exiting was when we had to put the tin foil onto the cardboard. This was fun because it really showed who took their time and really cared about the success of the project. It was also really funny when people screwed up and had to redo or reconstruct something.

Oven 9.

As a whole, our group agreed that this was a very cool and fun project to work on. It was also agreed that our group got along and worked well together. Our group cooked some nachos and cheese, and they seemed to be a hit, at least among our group. I learned just how much heat could be created just by reflecting light onto a centre location. I think that our group did a fairly good job in making a solar oven that did produce results, but I think that some things could be improved on. First, we could have done better by smoothing out all of the wrinkles, creases, and folds to create more heat. With the tinfoil, we also could have overlapped on the edges and sides so that every yocto meter is covered (yocto = y = 10—24). Improvements to our solar oven would be to bind the cardboard fans better together so that it didn't fall apart as on several occasions the tape was starting to come off. Another improvement could be on the food that we cooked. With two months to devise a recipe, nachos and cheese is very unimaginative. When we tested our solar ovens, ours got to above 150oC/300oF, or in the range of a conventional oven, meaning that we could have done something like cake or lasagna, not chips and cheese.

Oven 10.

Our group made a Smore Surprise that consisted of Graham Cracker, Chocolate, Marshmallows and the surprise cookie dough. The hardest part of all of this was the making of our solar ovens. We first assembled our ovens by simply following instructions. We had a small problem with the black paint that was supposed to cover our baking chamber. Once we found the solution which was to add LESS water, that was pretty simple. The next thing we did is finish assembling our ovens, then we went online and found a recipe that we all thought would be really satisfying and something that we ALL could agree on. Afterwards we split up the responsibility of getting the items. When cooking day rolled around, our group was prepared. We started assembling our recipe in the oven and then we got a direct beam of sun onto it. Before we knew the chocolate and the cookie dough and the Marshmallows were melted. Our group then took it out and enjoyed a nice feast.

Oven 11.

It was a very interesting experience building the solar oven. Imagine being able to cook something, without electricity, wood or gas, in a box! The most important thing we learned was how you can harness the power of the sun, which is such an available commodity, to cook food. One of the challenges that we encountered was getting the proper materials and assembling the oven, particularly working with the foil and getting it to stay on. We discovered that it is important to make sure that the foil is completely flat. You also need one sheet of foil for each side. Make sure that the cooking bag is flat and evened out. Also, try to cook something that won't take a long time. We recommend not to cook a roast! The heat only hits the surface so choose something to cook which is best cooked from the top through to the bottom. Your food can't be too thick.

This method of cooking is easily transported so could be used for camping and hiking. It would also be great for those who don't have or cannot afford electricity or gas to cook. But you need to be patient because food may take a long time to cook. You may want to pack along a chocolate bar or two to keep from starving!

Oven 12.

Recently at Banded Peak School we started a solar oven challenge. We built the oven so that we would be able to cook something simple like smores or fondue, using power from the sun. We did this activity in groups and in our group we decided to make chocolate and cheese fondue. We built our oven with cardboard and aluminium foil. While we were building, we experienced several difficulties because we didn't cut the cardboard exactly how it was supposed to be cut. Even though our solar oven works just as well as the others, you should be careful and measure your pieces carefully before you cut them out. The most fun part of this project was when we cooked. This was a really fun challenge that required lots of team work.

Oven 13.

During Science class one day, our teacher Mr.Churchill decided we were going to build solar ovens and cook something in them. We built a solar oven that had four panels with tin foil on the inside. We attached a box at the bottom and filled it with shredded paper for insulation. We then painted a cooking tin black and added a smaller cooking tin (where we cooked our food.) Before we started cooking, we noticed that our box that had the insulation in it was to low because our black tin with the smaller tin in it was not touching the sides and was not collecting all of the solar heat from the sun. We discovered if you moved the panels up from the box you would collect more heat if the tins were touching the sides of the box.

Oven 14.

A solar oven is an object that uses the sun's rays to heat up something. It has a four-sided opening where the sun's rays are focused from tinfoil to the bottom where the food is. The model was built for a class activity referring to the school unit of light. Groups of 4—5 participated in the challenge to make a solar oven. Our group learned that if your tinfoil is completely flat, it will reflect more light to your food. It also helped if you tilted the solar oven at the right angle to get the most possible amount of light in. If the bottom was black, it would heat up more and would give heat to the food from underneath. This was helpful and made the food very hot, rising sometimes if it was a hot day to a whopping 180 degrees! You could probably cook anything with that temperature. That was why our group enjoyed it because we could make something that we could cook in and we were pretty impressed at the temperature. We thought that if you were in the wilderness and had to cook something, this kind of thing could come in handy.

Don Valley, Grade 7, Toronto, ON
Honours with Distinction

Oven 1.

Our solar cooker is a box cooker but it has something to funnel the heat in. We had 2 boxes, one just a little smaller than the other. We put the smaller box into the larger one then put newspaper in the gap between the 2 boxes. Later we covered the inside of the smaller box with tinfoil. Then we made an open rectangular lid which funnels the heat in. We chose the design of the box because it would be able to funnel and trap heat in at the same time.

We have discovered how to trap heat and gain heat as it traps it. The tinfoil to reflect heat will make the particles move faster to make it warmer. The challenges we encountered was that our group didn't all work.

The fun part of our project was that we got to work together in a group.

Oven 2.

At first we had a design copied off the Internet. We were going to use that at first but it was too hard, so we created a whole new design that was easier and looked like it was going to work. The model we built was a model we made up by our selves. After we built it, it did work and was effective.

Oven 3.

We made a Solar Funnel Cooker. Here's the simple version of how it works: The reflector is shaped like a giant funnel, the shape of the funnel serves to reflect sun rays and gather them in the desired spot. You may have noticed that it works somewhat like the parabolic cooker, except that the sunlight is not concentrated to a single point at the bottom, instead it is concentrated along a line along the bottom, so it will not burn you even if you touch it. This is one of the major reasons why we chose to build a funnel cooker - because it's safer than a parabolic cooker. Also, this solar cooker just looked unique and stood out from the others while we were searching for which one to make.

While building a Solar Funnel Cooker, we encountered many challenges, which we managed (somehow) to overcome. The first of many was that we couldn't find a piece of cardboard big enough for the model. In the end, the solution was actually quite obvious and simple. We just put two pieces of cardboard together and voila, the first step of our Solar Funnel Cooker was complete. Another part where it was quite troublesome for us was when it seemed impossible to fold the cardboard into a funnel like the instructions told us to. Thank goodness our teacher taught us how to flatten it out and break the corrugation in the cardboard that way. It became a lot easier to fold after that!

It was interesting finding out how solar cookers worked. I never realized just how much we could utilize solar energy before this. During the researching phase of this project, we found out that this inexpensive yet effective solar cooker can be used for everyday cooking where electricity is not available and even fuel wood is getting scarce. The BYU (Brigham Young University) submitted a patent application for this invention, mainly to insure that no company would prevent the wide distribution of the Solar Funnel Cooker. They made no profit off of it, and I find that worth mentioning as well as simply amazing.

Oven 4.

The project model that we chose is a solar box cooker. It is made up of two boxes and one is smaller than the other. Our group chose this design because we thought it was simple enough to build. We thought it might be better if it can cook from the inside and not out in the open.

We learned that when building our solar cooker we should always read all the instructions before starting to build. Therefore we wouldn't make any mistakes. We should also check that we have all the materials we need. There were a few challenges when building the box cooker. For example, we did not have all the materials needed so we had to improvize. We also needed to make sure that we cut straight lines and make sure that all the sides were the right measurements.

We liked gluing all the materials to the boxes and had fun cutting them to the right size. Working in a group also made the project go faster and more enjoyable. I think the most important thing that we learned was that to build a solar cooker, or any project for that matter, you must all get along in your group.

Oven 5.

SOC 2009

Model: Minimum box solar cooker, regular pizza box, main flap glued shut, extra box shell glued to bottom for extra insulation. Flap cut 2 inches away from each side in top of box. Aluminum foil glued to under side of flap, inside of box. Large panels cut and added aluminum foil. Placed inside. Can be removed for portability then replaced.

Things I learned: how to use an exacto knife, how to create a safety edge, how to use a heavy cutter and how to apply aluminum foil to cardboard. I don't have any tips, and it was fairly simply.

It was fun to mix the water and glue in a 3:1 water-to-glue ratio. Then to apply it. Also, it's fun working with a partner.

Oven 6.

SOC 2009

The materials we used for our project: aluminum foil, wires, cardboard, glue,
cookie sheet. The perfect description for our project is that our project looks like one of those Chinese straw hats, but upside down. The reason why we decided to use this model of solar cooker was because we thought it would be quite simple to make, easy to work and would have some of the best results.

When building our project, we discovered that we had to find a new way to attach the pieces together because the way the instructions said to do it seemed harder than we thought it had to be. We also learned that making a solar cooker takes time and patience. One of the challenges we encountered was making sure that every piece of cardboard was the exact same size.

Something fun and exciting we liked about our project was when we had to cut the pieces of cardboard into triangular forms. The reason we enjoyed this part of the project was because the machine we used was very easy and fun to use. It also made the cutting process short.

Oven 7.

The project model I chose is a twelve-sided solar cooker. I chose this model because it looks really simple and not to hard to make.

By making my twelve-sided solar cooker, I improved my measurement skills and I learned what tools I need to make a straight line and so on. The problems I came across while making my project were making sure that all sides were measured correctly and I was using the right cardboard.

The thing I will enjoy most is cooking the cookies and possibly getting the prize. The thing that was the most exciting for me was cutting the cardboard and seeing that most of them came out perfectly.

Oven 8.

Our solar cooker consists of three pieces of cardboard. The cardboard is covered with sheets of aluminum foil which is taped and glued to reflect the sunlight and heat. Our solar cooker has corners and sides that are cut and bent to get an angle to reflect the sunlight towards the food from many locations. The cardboard is also painted black to attract and absorb heat. Our solar cooker can cook without greenhouse closing. The reason that we have chosen this design is because the solar cooker is light, portable and not to small or big. It will fold up nice and easily without breaking or falling apart and could be changed to get maximum heat according to the sun's altitude setting (low sun's altitude setting, high sun's altitude setting). The solar cooker can reach up to high temperatures. Also, this solar cooker is complicated to make so we wanted to challenge ourselves.

SOC 2009

What we learned in building our model is to be very delicate when handling aluminum foil because it will rip and get wrinkled easily if you don't put precaution into you work while attaching tape or glue on it. We also discovered that putting the color black around or on the solar cooker will help collect and trap heat during the process of cooking. Some of the challenges we have encountered were to repair the wrinkles and rips we made on the aluminum foil and deciding what type of miniature food we could make. Another challenge we faced is how we are going to improve it more.

Making the project was really fun because since this solar cooker was made by two people, it was fun working together. We both always worked together if we made a mistake and there is no stress because we don't have to count on only ourselves, we can count on each other to make a better and more created work. Something fun about our solar cooker is that when you look at the aluminum foil like a mirror, your face looks very weird because when you see your reflection back at you, the wrinkles on the solar cooker interferes and it makes your face looks unnatural. Also what is exciting for us is the suspense to know what our solar cooker could make and how hot it can be at its maximum. It is exciting to figure out if the solar cooker will work and if it will cook foods differently than other cooking devices.

Oven 9.

SOC 2009

Our project model started out as a simple pizza box. We decided for extra insulation to add another box under and fill it with crumpled newspaper. We then added two cardboard pieces on the sides of the box to trap the heat better and to rise the temperature. We chose this design because it was simple, straightforward and we knew that we could've modified it and made it better.

While making this project, we learned some tips about building a solar cooker. We learned that it's good to crumple up newspaper and put it in some spots of the project because it makes the food you are cooking hotter.

We like how our project had two extra panels with aluminum foil around it so that it attracts more sunlight to what we were cooking. We also like how we crumpled up the newspaper for extra insulation. During this time we learned how to attract and trap heat. It was a very enriching experience.

Oven 10.

Well, our project takes the shape of a rectangular cardboard box. On the top there are four flaps wrapped in aluminum foil, and a plastic cover. We added a door to one side, and inside we insulated the sides and bottom. Our solar cooker works by placing food into the oven and then releasing the flaps to reflect the sun's rays onto the plastic. We painted the outside of our oven to attract some sunlight. We chose to use this design because it looked easy to make, and it's a great model to personalize in our own unique ways.

A major thing we learned about is using insulation. Using insulation protects our oven from heat loss. In our case, we used newspapers and cardboard to insulate. We also learned several different ways to keep our flaps up. We could use string, cardboard wedges, or maybe even Velcro. There were small disadvantages such as the glue not drying quickly enough, or our paper and aluminum foil ripping....a lot. Sometimes when we couldn't personalize our oven the way we wanted to, we had a little difficulty thinking of ways to change our "plan." Otherwise everything went well.

We had a lot of fun working on this project together. We had fun personalizing our oven, as well as gluing and putting it all together. Working together was the best part. When we all "put our heads together," we came up with some awesome stuff! "Three heads are better than one!" Using some tools was also fun, such as the paper cutter and saw. We also had fun interacting with other groups. We would sometimes give each other some advice, or help each other by saying things like "you have something on your back" or "you might want to move your hand before I cut my paper." You know, for safety reasons.

Oven 11.

SOC 2009

Our solar cooker is called the pizza box solar oven. It is a box cooker. We chose this design because it was straight forward, we got to add our own unique touch, and most of all it looked awesome!

We learned that it is not easy, because while building, if we didn't have the right measurements it didn't work out. We discovered that solar energy can be used for all sorts of things! In the design, we added many things to it like extra panels so it could bounce off more heat. These panels included many challenges because it was hard to find the right materials and the measurements.

Something that was fun and exciting was working together as a group, because while working we had lots of fun! The things that were exciting were using the different types of machines for the very first time!

Oven 12.

SOC 2009

Our cooker is a very large box cooker. It has all four sides and a triangle shaped flap inside. All of the sides have tin foil, which reflect light. Our cooker is foldable and portable. We used string and nails to hold the cooker up. We put tape on the nails to remove the sharpness.

We learned that it is hard to work as a group when different people want two different things. It is hard to build things when they don't always stand up straight. It is also confusing to focus light into one place.

It's cool that the cooker is portable and also it was interesting to work with your friends. It was really cool to understand how you can direct solar energy to one place.

 

Oven 13.

Clearly, this solar cooker is much smaller than the others, but it makes it much more portable and lightweight. The main aspects are an open cooker, foldable, and small. We chose this design because of these very reasons. It is more practical for use and storage. We tried to explore the aspects of an open cooker since most of our fellow classmates chose to explore the box cooker. The angles of our solar cooker are designed to reflect to one area, where the food shall be cooked.

SOC 2009

We found out that mathematics were much involved in the instructions of this design. This included measurements, angles, and problem solving. The problems we encountered included: finding the right angles, the last panel which we had to support, keeping the glue from tainting the tin foil, and making it more portable and foldable. Our group read over our plans and studied the images to estimate the angles. We made a stand to support the last panel. To keep the glue from decreasing the reflective power of the tin foil, we used glue sticks to attach the foil to the cardboard. We made it more foldable by making tabs (so it folds), therefore making it portable.

This was exciting because we had a new learning experience, which opened our eyes to different ways of constructing. Our problem solving skills increased because of the problems we encountered and how we were able to solve them. This activity required us to put our creativity into use. Our group also got the chance to use new Design and Technology machines we haven't gotten to experience before. Overall, we had a lot of fun with making this solar cooker.

Oven 14.

Our solar cooker is called the pizza box solar, we chose this design because it looked good. We got to add our own unique touch, and it looked good!

While building our solar cooker, we learned that it is not that easy, because if we didn't have the right measurement, it didn't work out in the design. We added some stuff to it, like extra things, so it could bounce off heat.

Something that was fun and exciting was working together, because we had fun using different machines and other stuff. We had fun!

Oven 15.

Our solar cooker uses aluminum foil mainly to easily reflect light and use it as an advantage. It will take the heat and reflect it onto the food making it cook. We put 2 layers of aluminum foil for extra heat and we also put 2 layers of black since black absorbs a lot of light and heat.

We learned that to make this project it took a long time. It required a lot of teamwork and responsibility. We tried cooking potatoes and milk and they turned out to look very appetizing. This was just a test but now we are ready for the actual test that Mr. Smith will give us. We worked hard on it and we recommend that you choose it!!!!

The fun parts about working on this was the teamwork. We worked together really well and we also had a fun time. As a group what we think was the most fun/exciting thing about this project was working on the machines!!!!!!

St. Mark Separate School, Grades 3 to 6, Mississauga, ON
Honours with Distinction

Oven 1. The Box

SOC 2009 This was a solar oven group project for school. It's simply a box hence the name, The Box. This box has two magnifying glasses duct-taped together to magnify the light so it is focused on the food. The cooking chamber is insulated with styrofoam. The inside walls are covered with aluminum foil to reflect the light onto the cooking chamber which heats up and then cooks the food. The bottom is black to attract light. The brownies we baked were absolutely delicious.

We discovered that styrofoam is a good insulation and that teamwork is needed to make this a success. We learned that if one person goofs off, the entire project will fail. Tips for building are to calculate a good angel to project the light onto the food. Also you need to be able to enhance the heat so that it will actually cook the food. The one main challenge was the weather. We needed it to cooperate and be sunny. Other challenges were building and planning.

We had a lot of fun building and planning. The most exciting part was preparing the food and hoping that it will bake!

Oven 2

SOC 2009The solar oven that our group built has a very unique design. We started by making a stand for our design to sit on, after that, we constructed the body of the solar oven. The body consists of 12 panels all angled to reflect light to one point, our cooking chamber. On top of this, we have 6 more reflector panels on top to catch even more sunlight and reflect it onto the cooking chamber. This is called a parabolic design. All heat and light is directed to one place.

We learned that angles make a great impact on the outcome of the project, especially with a parabolic design like ours. If the angles are not correct, you cannot get all the heat you need to succeed. Also, the colouring of the cooking chamber is very important. Since black absorbs the most heat and gives off the most heat, you should always have a black cooking chamber. On top of this, we learned that it is very important for the aluminum foil on the reflector panels to be as smooth as possible. Otherwise, the heat and light will not be reflected properly and the cooking chamber will not get all the heat it needs to cook.

Some of the difficulties that we encountered during the project were:

  1. Weather: On all the dates that we planned to test the ovens, it was always too cloudy or rainy.
  2. Make sure that you use materials that do not melt when there is extreme heat.
  3. Do not interrupt the cooking process, otherwise it could take twice as long.

The entire group agrees that the best part about making the solar oven was, of course, building it. It was a lot of work, but we did it all to the best of our abilities. Our favourite part about the building was putting aluminum foil on the reflector panels. We enjoyed applying each layer and gently smoothing it out wrinkle by wrinkle. We also had lots of fun making the batter for our muffins. But the best part about the whole experience was EATING when everything was done. All in all, our whole group had lots of fun and we came away with more knowledge and a great sense of accomplishment.

Oven 3. Solar Oven 4.491545 Dragon Slayer Edition

SOC 2009 While we were building our solar oven, we learned that black absorbs heat and that foil reflects sunlight into the cooking box. It is important to work together as a group. Some challenges were with the weather. When we were ready, it was either cold, windy, overcast or raining.

It was fun when we were building the solar oven. The best part was when we were baking the mini muffins in the solar oven. Overall, the group had lots and lots of fun. Everyone in our group was working together and we had no problems. It was a good learning experience.

Oven 4. LI Bakery Solar Cooker 2009

We made solar ovens as a group project. Our group name is Fried Bunnies. Our solar oven is covered with black paint on the outside, and inside, it's covered with tin foil (to reflect the light into the cooking chamber) and insulation (foam and bubble wrap). Basically, it looks like four panels that are specially angled, mounted on a big, rectangular box.

SOC 2009 We learned that solar ovens can actually work, and they can heat up to a really hot temperature, if you use the right materials. Ours went right up to 70 degrees Celsius! Also, we learned that we had to be very careful when using the dangerous materials... one of our group members learned that... the hard way. To add to all our challenges, Mother Nature wasn't cooperating with us. We had to wait for a week until the weather was right for cooking!

A fun experience was shopping for the ingredients. We had never been "out" with each other and it made a good memory. Cooking was also really fun. We baked Spritz, a.k.a. some type of cookie, and lime shrimp kabobs. But of course, eating the food was the best!

Royal Canadian Montessori, Whitby, ON
Honours with Distinction

Solar Oven: A Muffin of a Project

SOC 2009

During a project in which I ask my students to tell me "how I am going to change the world," my students were interested in decreasing electricity usage. They devised a plan which used solar power to power a household including an oven on solar energy collected and stored in solar panels affixed to a roof. They predict that in 20 years all households will use solar energy for a majority of their power needs. We undertook the Solar Oven Challenge to learn about solar energy and also to try to make an impact towards environmental change. The class split themselves into two groups, boys against girls, and each team tried to come up with the best oven. The girls made an upright oven. They used several boxes. They lined the bottom of a large box with tin foil. They added four sides that were placed in an open concept oven. Everything was on about 75 degree angle. They used a thin tin pie pan and a clear oven bag to retain the heat.

The oven did heat up quickly and the muffins were cooking. However, there was a snag in the plan when a gambit of clouds emerged and we had periodic cloud cover. The students discovered that they needed a constant supply of heat in order to have the muffins cook thoroughly. They focused their attention on trying to devise a better plan for heat absorption and retention. While we ate the muffins that were cooked simultaneously in the oven in the kitchen (just in case), we discussed ways that the students could concentrate the heat in a smaller chamber and also how they could partially bury the chamber in the earth to keep the heat in. They also threw around ideas of using a magnify glass to concentrate the heat. However, they reasoned that concentration of heat in an area might only burn the food not cook it properly so they thought they might try using the magnifying glass to heat a partially submerged chamber in water. They reasoned that the water might be better able to retain the heat. Overall, the model was sound but the sun's rays were unpredictable.

The students loved the hands-on experience and problem solving. The girls decorated the back of their oven with symbols and really personalized it. They were so proud of themselves, and they really had fun working together. They are already talking about what to do next year to make it better.

Crestwood School, Grades 4 to 6, Medicine Hat, AB
Honours with Distinction

Oven 1.

2009 solar 
ovenWe built the box oven for individual uses in a recycling club at our school and for fun. You need to make sure all the sides have tinfoil. We got to make our own recipe! We had a contest to see whose oven worked the best. We got to make up our own team names. We got to work with our own partners and there were three groups competing. We really got to use our imaginations with the recipes. The recipes were hard to think of but we made it through. It took my group about 2 hours to create and 1 1/2 to bake cookies and marshmallows. It was very hard to create, but we had fun. It took a while to make, but it was worth it. I feel like all kids should be doing this, but only six were interested in it. Isn't that crazy out of 200 kids only 6 wanted to (but it is out of grades 4 to 6).

Oven 2.

2009 solar ovenWe built the box oven. We did it in an individual group. We built it for fun. Make sure that you put tinfoil on all sides of the box. Do not spray paint too much. We got to create our own recipes. We are going to test them soon. We will see whose Solar Oven worked the best and whose recipe was the most creative. We got to work with a partner so that was really fun to have someone to work with. We kind of had a contest at first to see whose Solar Oven worked the best. There were three groups competing. Last year, I really wanted to do this project but I was so busy with my social life that I couldn't do it. This year is my first year with this competition but so far it has been extremely fun. It took us about two hours straight to build our Solar Oven. But it was definitely worth the while. So far it has been really fun working up to this point. If I can I will definitely do this next year. I feel that all kids should be involved with the environment. I think that anybody would like it. It's just been really fun. I really like working on this project. This year I have been a lot more involved with the environment.

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