Open Main Menu
Now You’re Cookin’ With the Sun

Now You’re Cookin’ With the Sun

Harness the power of the sun to make a s’more or some nachos as you learn about solar energy.

Power Up

Part of our Sustainability Science Adventures
Educator Rating:
Parent Rating:

What I'll Learn

The sun is a very powerful source of renewable energy. Renewable energy is energy created from the Earth’s natural resources that cannot be used up or exhausted.

What to Do

What I Need

What to Do: Step-by-Step Instructions


Most ovens are heated using electricity or gas (such as natural gas or propane). But you can create an oven using energy from the sun! On a sunny day, gather your materials so you can make a delicious, sunbaked treat.

Fun Fact:

The sun is a very powerful source of renewable energy.

If you’re using something like a pizza box, where the lid is the full length of the box and attached like a hinge on one side of the box, skip ahead to the next step. If you’re using a box with two smaller flaps for a lid, cut one flap off and tape it to the other flap so they become one long cover for your box.

Tips & Tricks:

If you are using a box with two smaller flaps for a lid, cut both flaps off, tape them together so they become one long piece, and then tape one edge like a hinge to an open edge of your box.

Cover the lid with smooth foil, making sure the shiny side is facing outward. Use tape to secure the foil.

Tips & Tricks:

Make sure the foil remains as smooth as possible – you want to use it like a mirror.

Line the inside of your box with smooth foil, again taping it down with the shiny side out and keeping it as smooth as possible.

In a sunny spot outside, position your lid so it bounces as much sun as possible into the foil-lined box. Once you find this sunny “sweet spot”, tape one end of the ruler to the lid and the other end to the box, to keep the lid at this same angle.

Place your black construction paper or dark colored baking tray inside the middle of the box.

Fun Fact:

Dark colors absorb heat, so this will help your oven heat up faster.

Assemble your food on top of the oven-safe plate or dish. Then place the dish on top of the black paper.

Put the glass bowl or baking dish upside down on top of the dish and food, so it forms a dome. Then let the oven heat up using the power of the sun.

Tips & Tricks:

Make sure the bowl has created a good seal with the bottom of the box so hot air stays inside the glass. The oven will heat up using the sun’s energy – just like the walls of a greenhouse!

Check in on your food every few minutes. When the food has warmed or melted, it’s ready to eat. Use the hot mitts to help you lift the glass bowl and lift your plate so you can dig in and enjoy!

Fun Fact:

The oven is heated when rays of light travel from the sun, bounce off the foil, and hit the glass bowl. These rays of light then heat up the air trapped inside the glass bowl. The black paper underneath absorbs the heat from the bottom of the oven, making the oven hot on all sides. Since you’re relying on solar energy to heat the oven, the hotter the day, the faster your food will heat.