Build a Solar Oven (Grades K-5)

Who needs a campfire when you’ve got the power of the sun’s rays? 

Solar oven on a porch

Did you know you can create an oven hot enough to melt chocolate using just the power of the sun’s rays? If it’s a sunny day at your house, try this fun activity with a grown-up’s help or supervision, and have a little camp-style cookout!

What You Need

  • Pizza box or similar cardboard box (with a lid on the largest side of the box) 
  • Plastic wrap or large plastic bag
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tape
  • Black construction paper (or similar)
  • Scissors or box cutter
  • Newspaper or scrap paper
  • Ruler or stick
  • Oven mitt

Child glues foil into a box

What To Do

  1. With the box lid closed, cut a flap around three sides of the lid, about an inch from the edges (ask a grown-up to help or supervise). 
  2. Wrap the inside of the flap tightly with aluminum foil, and secure with tape. 
  3. Cover the flap opening with plastic wrap stretched tightly. Secure it to the sides of the flap. If you are using a plastic bag, cut it to fit the opening.  
  4. Line the bottom of the box with black construction paper. 
  5. Roll or fold up newspaper or scrap paper, and tuck it around the edges of the inside of the box to insulate it. 
  6. Set up your solar oven outdoors between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sunlight is bright. Close the lid and open the flap. Prop the flap open with your ruler or stick. You want sunlight to reflect off the aluminum foil of the flap and into the opening of the box. 
  7. Let your solar oven warm up for about 30-45 minutes in the sun with the flap propped open. Now it’s time to cook!
  8. Place your food inside the solar oven (under the clear plastic flap). You can cook s’mores inside your solar oven, toast some bread or melt cheese on chips to make nachos. Be sure to place your food on a heat-safe dish. 
  9. Let your food cook for at least 20 minutes before checking on it. Ask a grown-up to help or supervise when you get your food out of the solar oven, using an oven mitt.