Christ the King Elementary, Grade 4, Whitehorse, YK
Our grade 4 class built solar ovens and displayed and tested them on Earth Day. It was a class project and part of our energy conservation unit. With help from parents, the students built 5 ovens. They also wrote announcements to be read over the PA for all of Earth Week that included energy facts and conservation tips.
The students learned about how solar energy can be used as an alternative source of heat and ways that they can reduce the amount of energy they consume at school and home. They really enjoyed the construction day and working together to follow the instructions. Cutting the cardboard was the most challenging part as well as keeping the foil smooth.
The students displayed and presented their projects to other students in younger and older grades. It was a clear yet cool day with lots of snow still on the ground. The ovens were successful, and groups enjoyed eating their nachos and smores.
Fletcher's Creek Senior PS, Grade 7, Brampton, ON
Building solar powered ovens was a great way to end our grade 7 heat unit. All of the information on particle theory, radiation, conduction, heat absorption, and energy conservation was put to use for this project. In teams of 4 to 6, students built and tested their solar powered ovens. Twice, they made modifications to try to reach the goal temperature of 175 degrees Celcius. The teams added more insulation, as well as more black paint, and finally they ended up wrapping the top of the panels in plastic wrap in an effort to trap all the heat inside their ovens. Unfortunately, they couldn't reach a temperature high enough to bake cookies, so our class made s'mores. Some students never had s'mores before, so it was a new experience, and the ovens did a good job melting the chocolate chips and making the marshmallows nice and soft.
Class 707 decided that next time they would like to try baking in the ovens in the warmer spring months instead of the colder fall months, and on a day with no wind.
Class 707 learns best when they can get their hands on something. They really enjoyed building the ovens and were able to explain how they worked using correct science terminology. It was an exciting way to start the year.
Hunter's Glen, Grade 4 and 5, Scarborough, ON
HG chefs cooking everything under the sun
Part of the eco class (12 grade 4 and 5 students) at Hunter's Glen spent several early mornings building solar ovens following the re-energy.ca plan. Our class had been working on a variety of projects to show how eco-friendly our school is, and it was time for a new challenge. After studying renewable energy sources, the students set out at 8:00 on sunny days in April and May to see how powerful the sun really could be.
They worked in groups of 4 to build 3 ovens with the goal to prepare an appetizer, a snack and a dessert. We tried to bring new life to items found in the recycling bins throughout the school by collecting both the cardboard and newspapers from them. Once supplies were gathered, we were ready to create. We cut the cardboard following the plans from the website as closely as possible, with some quirky shapes as the end result. In an attempt to make the tinfoil straight, we tried putting glue on the cardboard versus the tinfoil and smoothing the foil with either our hands or a ruler. The smoothest results came from putting the glue on the cardboard and using a ruler to even it out. Our first attempt was brownies — donning our chef hats we headed out to the yard to test our ovens and our cooking skills. A little too much wind prevented our masterpiece from getting enough sun to cook completely, but the pan was still licked clean.
Our perfect sunny day did arrive, and we grabbed our ovens and ran. We decided the roof was where we would get the stronger heat that we needed, as it is closer to the source. This time, brownies and nachos were our goal. The wind tried to step in again but we got wise and used string to hold our ovens in place. We also learned how the angle of the oven had an effect since one oven worked much faster than the others.
A big food fest was had with nachos, cheese and salsa as the appetizer, and brownies for dessert. The chocolate brownies were the biggest hit and cooked so well that some of our faces got a little more on them then our mouths did. We are eagerly waiting for the next sunny day for our main course of sun-baked pizza. The chefs of Hunter's Glen are excited for the sun to strike again!
Jasper Place High School, Grade 10, Edmonton, AB
We completed the solar oven project as part of the science 14 Heat Transfer Unit for a Knowledge and Employability class. The class has 12 students and they worked together to build one solar oven. We spent an 80-minute period cooking nachos in the solar oven.
We learned about heat transfer — that solar energy can be used to cook food. It would have been better to have two 80-minute periods to have more time to cook more food. We should have used the black tray as it would have absorbed more energy to help cook our food. If we would have placed it in the cooking bag, it would have trapped more heat. Using less cheese might have helped as well. Following the plans and building the oven was also good for learning some math concepts.
They enjoyed the building process. The students were able to follow the plans and only needed some guidance.
Student comments: It was fun eating and cooking. It was fun making the oven. It was fun putting it together and also eating the nachos. We also played baseball while waiting for the ovens to cook as it took awhile for the cheese to melt.
The students would like to do it again and try to cook different foods.
Post Academy Homeschool, Calgary, AB
The Post Brothers' Outdoor Kitchen
My brother and I (with loads of help from dad) built the solar oven that was on the re-energy.ca website. We chose this model because it looked easy to build and would capture a lot of the sun's energy. We decided to cook up a recipe called Corn Dodgers that is basically like a corn bread that you eat with maple syrup! Yum!
Building the oven was actually a lot harder than we thought. We wanted the tin foil to be really smooth, but we got some wrinkles. Using thick sturdy cardboard works best. Some of the challenges were:
- Forgetting that it is a hot oven (ouch!)
- Don't stand in front and block the sunlight.
- It takes a long time to cook something and you could starve to death during that time period (just joking).
- Keeping it aimed at the sun constantly.
It was fun building the oven. We thought it was really cool that you could cook in a box! Cooking with solar heat is a great way to use renewable energy. We also learned about countries that use this way of cooking all the time because they don't have electricity.
SATEC @ W.A. Porter Collegiate, Grade 9, Toronto, ON
The purpose of a solar oven is to create an efficient and environmentally friendly way to cook food effectively. It is also a chance to create and design, leading to a gain in experience and a better understanding of the many alternate options we have.
The steps we followed:
- Gather all the required materials.
- Take apart one side of a cardboard box, and with the help of a ruler cut out four, large rectangles.
- Take aluminum foil and cover one side of the rectangle. To secure the foil in place, use tape and place it on the back.
- Open the flaps on one side of the second cardboard box, and carefully put each of the large rectangles on each of the sides, NOT ON THE FLAPS. The rectangles need to be long enough to reach to the bottom of the box.
- After taking plenty of strong duct tape, make sure that the remaining cardboard box's flaps do not move. Attach the flaps onto the backs of the rectangles, with the tape. Use additional foil to fill in gaps so that no rays can escape.
- Rip apart pieces of scrap paper, and toss them into the box. This results in the creation of the insulator.
- Taking a tin pan to be the baking chamber, gently place clear wrap on the pan. The pan will have dark metal pieces on it and black paint, surrounding the small plate which is to contain the food to be cooked. Take note that the metal parts could only be accessed with the help of a teacher. The tin baking pan must be taped into the baking chamber.
- Take a large, powerful light, and angle it toward the oven from a distance.
- Test the oven; wait till your food cooks and BEWARE OF THE HEAT! USE OVEN MITTS to prevent savage burns from occurring.
After the food has cooled, enjoy the snack!
The heat energy enters by the sun's rays, and it is reflected by the aluminum foil toward the black tin pan in the cooking chamber, and is collected with the help of the insulation so the food can be cooked for a shorter amount of time.
I would change the beginning part of the design to slightly curve in the tops of each of the rectangle panels. I feel that it would be helpful if a reflective surface such as the aluminum foil could also act as a way to keep the rays inside the solar oven. The light will have even less of a chance to escape, and so there will be more heat to cook the food.
The sun's visible light is able to be collected by the beams reflected off the aluminum foil, and then directed in one concentrated direction, which is the cooking chamber. As black is a shade that does not allow much light to pass through it, it is best if the tin pan where the food is to be cooked is coloured black. Also, the heat can be absorbed and help cook the food.
The angle or position that is the most effective for generating heat in this solar oven is to have the baking chamber face up to the sun directly.
The solar oven can be used to keep foods warm, and heat up food that have become cold, or it can heat up water for a family to use for their daily needs.
The limitation of the oven is that it cannot operate if the sun is not there, and the weather is not able to display the sun constantly. During the course of the day, the oven ought to be moved around so that the maximum amount of heat and light it can gather is made available.
Our group cooked an egg in our solar oven. We broke the egg and placed it into the smaller aluminum pie plate inside the baking chamber. We took saran wrap and covered the baking chamber with it, because it would act as a screen to help keep pollutants out. As a result of our experiment (May 2009), our solar oven reached an astonishing temperature of 41 degrees Celsius.
St. Bonaventure, Grade 7, Toronto, ON
As part of the unit Heat in the Environment, the grade 7 class split into groups and each group built a solar oven. Using many re-usable materials, the construction followed the instructions based on the example given; however, when insulating the cooking container, a lot more insulation was used (LOTS of shredded paper — although the students were worried about the possibility of setting it on fire during testing!).
The students realized that it would be good to cover all aluminum edges and corners with aluminum tape to ensure there would be maximum reflection and minimum heat escaping from holes and cracks in the solar oven. Painting the cooking chamber black was essential in absorbing as much heat as possible. The foil on the collectors had to be as smooth as possible — which was difficult to achieve because of the challenges with sticking it down efficiently. It was CRUCIAL that all measurements were accurate. The reflective panels need to be large so as to catch as much radiant energy as possible.
The construction of the solar oven was a lot of fun, and being able to modify the design during construction so as to iron out any imperfections was exciting because that is where the students became very creative. Testing out the oven in the snow in February was exciting because even at -10 degrees Celcius the best oven reached about 100 degrees Celcius. The competition between the different groups was interesting to watch as was the discussion about the best positioning of the oven towards the sun and whether it should constantly move with the sun.
St. Margaret's School, Grade 4, Victoria, BC
It is like a funnel that funnels the light from the sun to turn it into heat. On the bottom of the oven, we put egg cartons to insulate it. The food sits on top of the egg cartons so the heat will rise up from air spaces between the egg cups to cook the food. It has a plastic piece on top of the oven so that the light can go in, but the heat gets trapped. We painted the outside black so that it would absorb the light which turns into heat. The whole inside is covered in aluminum foil so that when the light goes in, it will keep reflecting off the sides until it gets absorbed in the bottom. This was a class project, and we worked in a group of five.
We learned that the plastic on top will let the light in but not let the heat out. It was hard for all group members to have something to do at the same time.
It was fun planning and making it. It was fun making smores.
We made a black oven so it would absorb heat. It has a tray inside to put the smores on because we don't want it to burn on the bottom. It has under-carpet as insulation underneath the tray to keep the oven warm. Along the inside of the oven, there is smooth aluminum foil to reflect the light onto the tray where the food is. Covering the top of the oven, there is saran wrap to keep the heat inside the oven like the windows of a greenhouse do. There is a door that opens, and the tray comes out with it. That is how you retrieve the food. This was a class project, and we worked in a group of five.
We learned about teamwork and how to decide on things while listening to each other. We also learned about ovens, greenhouses, and how to contain heat.
Planning the oven was fun. Putting it together was awesome. We like to problem solve.
St. Rene Goupil/St. Luke, Grades 4 and 5, Thornhill, ON
Our project goal was to cook in a more efficient, renewable way using solar ovens. This project included cutting, pasting and patience. Our solar ovens had four panels, two big and two small. They had a cardboard box at the bottom and a black painted tinfoil container to attract heat. In our groups, we each chose a recipe and used it in our solar ovens. In conclusion, making the solar ovens was one of the most enjoyable and educational experiences we've had this year.
Each group provided one sentence about the tips or challenges they experienced:
- Some people didn't contribute as much, however, we still succeeded.
- We learned that solar ovens need to be positioned in the right position in order to work.
- We discovered that reading instructions was the most important and tricky part.
- We discovered/learned that the solar oven is difficult to build and getting the correct measurement is hard.
- We learned to cook food by using the sun's heat, reflecting on the solar panels.
Each group felt that cooking the food and being successful was the most exciting part of this project. The food made included hot dogs, smores, and garlic bread. The satisfaction of seeing and tasting the cooked food made the activity a lot of fun!
Timberlea Public School, Grade 7, Fort McMurray, AB
Wrapping up the Winter with Solar Ovens!
As part of the grade 7 science unit on heat and temperature, the students created their own solar ovens. Different forms of energy were examined. The solar ovens were a great way for the students to get hands-on experience with alternate sources of energy and their potential uses. The students were given the plans provided by re-energy.ca and were sent to work! The solar oven that reached the highest temperature was selected for submission. In this case, the highest temperature reached was 105 degrees Celsius in only an hour and a half!
Through trial and error many discoveries were made including the following:
- it is the air that is warmed so it is important to use a bag around the food to trap the air and not let it out of the cooking area
- the solar oven must be angled properly to allow for maximum exposure to the sun's radiant heat
- the thermometer must be inside the bag to properly measure the temperature
- having a shiny cooking tray reflects some of the heat instead of absorbing it, use black and dull
- if you use cookie dough it may slide down your tray because you have to angle it towards the sun.
The students had a great time building and testing their ovens! Even though it was a chilly day of only 4 degrees Celsius, the students were eager to keep checking on their ovens to record the temperatures as they went up and to see how their food was cooking! It was really exciting to see the students discussing their projects with the younger students who came out for their recess break while we were testing. The projects drew a lot of attention from both students and teachers alike!
Vaughan Secondary, Grade 7, Vaughan, ON
Oven 1. Pizza Box Solar Oven
We used a pizza box. We put aluminum foil on the bottom of the box to attract heat for the food. We also used plastic wrap to contain the heat in the box. We put our food — crackers, marshmallows and chocolate chips — at the bottom to cook. It was the right size, neat and clean. Also, our solar oven was very stable.
We learned that tin foil and black tape attract heat and that plastic wrap traps the heat. We also learned that you need to put the oven on the right angle to work properly. We could have used bigger pieces of chocolate and marshmallows because our smaller pieces melted quickly.
We used crackers instead of graham crackers so it was the right proportions. Also, the chocolate was really melted and the marshmallows were hot. The food tasted really good, and everyone got to have a piece of our s'more cake!
Oven 2. Waffle Box Solar Oven
Our solar oven was a big square waffle box. We used tinfoil to attract the sun's heat and newspaper as an insulator. This paper was a good way to keep the heat in our box. We learned that the tin foil made the box very hot. Also, we learned that you can make simple food using natural energy. It also was a bit harder than initially expected, and there were some difficulties with the placement of the tin foil.
Our solar oven was different because everyone made s'mores or grilled cheese. We made a healthy snack with chocolate on banana's, strawberries and apples. Also, eating our chocolate fruit was good and tasty!
Our solar oven was made out of cardboard and panels lined with aluminum foil. We put lots of newspaper around the bottom to keep in the heat. We also used black construction paper to attract the heat and make our food cook.
We learned that the sun is needed as solar energy to make the solar oven work, and the sun can be used to cook food. Also, we learned about the importance of team work and how everyone should have a part in making the oven and that everyone should bring in at least one food item to cook.
We got to make and then eat our food! Our solar oven looked good and we had a lot of fun making s'mores in the solar oven!
Oven 4. Grill Cheese Maker
Our solar oven was surrounded by a cage of tinfoil and our food was placed on a piece of black construction paper.
Everything was pretty good up until we placed the black construction paper. That stuck to the bread because we buttered the both sides of the bread.
Something fun was showing how we could serve our own food and not waste energy. It is just cool knowing we can actually use what we have learned about alternative energy and put it to good use.
It looks like a great solar energy box. The plastic contained the heat in the box, cooking our grilled cheese nicely. We placed the panels properly, and we had plastic wrap on the top of the box to keep in the heat. The newspaper absorbed the heat.
We learned that food in a solar oven really can cook! The plastic was the most important part because it kept the heat in. We also learned that the solar oven was a great way of converting energy from the sun without using man-made material. Even though it is a longer process of making food, it helps the environment.
The food was made nicely because the bread was crispy and the cheese melted. The food tasted good because the bread was toasted as the plastic cover kept the heat in. It was fun to enjoy the food and was a successful project!
Oven 6. Chocolate Melter
Our solar oven had aluminum foil and a tin tray at the bottom. We placed a white bowl on the tray, lined with black construction paper to cook our food. We used a cardboard box as a base of the solar oven, and we created four cardboard panels wrapped in aluminum foil that were able to capture the sun's rays.
We learned that the solar oven was very slow in melting and heating our food. It took to about 200 degree Celsius for the food to be melted.
We accomplished our goal of making chocolate covered marshmallows. What makes our recipe different is the fact that we heated our marshmallows and chocolate chips instead of heating them with crackers.