By Terry Evers

Soon, eager 21st-Century learners will return to classrooms, and in many locations, the weather will still be warm and sunny. Why not take advantage of the sun’s rays to engage students in a hands-on experience to learn about solar energy?

Using cardboard pizza boxes, a few items from the kitchen, and some common craft tools, students can construct a solar oven that teaches about renewable energy and the concept of energy transfer. Using a Vernier Surface Temperature Sensor can further enhance this activity. Students can use the sensor to collect and analyze data in the oven. Data, such as how long the oven takes to reach the maximum temperature, the rate at which it heats up, and the rate at which it cools when removed from the sun, can be interesting.

Half of the fun of a solar oven is cooking something. Have students try heating S’mores or nachos, and measure the amount of time and temperature it takes to properly prepare them.

Watch the video below for instructions on how to construct your own solar pizza box oven.