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Science Rocks!


Solar Cookers

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Sent in by:
Scot of CA, Caroline and Libby of Needham, MA

Harness the sun's heat to cook up a tasty treat.
Materials

Materials Needed


  • 2 large sheets of black poster board
  • aluminum foil
  • black construction paper
  • cardboard box
  • pizza box
  • newspaper
  • tape
  • book
  • resealable plastic baggies
  • graham crackers
  • marshmallows
  • chocolate bar
  • 3 thermometers

Instructions

Instructions


  1. Check with an adult before you begin.
  2. Scot of CA sent in a design for a cone-shaped Solar Cooker. Caroline and Libby sent in a design for a pizza box Solar Cooker. You can just make one of these Solar Cookers or make them both to see which one cooks a s'more the fastest.
  3. To make Scot's Solar Cooker, glue two pieces of black poster board together to make one long piece. Cover one side with aluminum foil.
  4. Bend the poster board, foil side in, into a cone shape and tape it together. The cone should still be open on both ends.
  5. Put black construction paper in the bottom of a cardboard box. This dark surface will absorb heat into the bottom of the box.
  6. Prop the cone in the box with the narrower opening pointing down.
  7. Put a graham cracker with a marshmallow on top of it in a resealable baggie. Chocolate melts faster than marshmallows, so it works best to cook the marshmallow first and add the chocolate later.
  8. Put the baggie on the bottom of the box in the center of the cone.
  9. To make Caroline and Libby's pizza box Solar Cooker, put a few sheets of newspaper in the bottom of a pizza box. Cover the newspaper with black construction paper to absorb heat.
  10. Cut a flap out of the top of the pizza box two inches from the sides and front but attached in the back. Bend it back and cover the inside of the flap with aluminum foil.
  11. Tape plastic wrap across the hole left by the flap.
  12. Put a graham cracker with a marshmallow on it on top of the black paper in the bottom of the box. Close the box.
  13. Use a book or tape to prop open the flap so that the aluminum foil can catch the sunlight and reflect it onto the marshmallow.
  14. Make an extra s'more to be the control. Don't put this one in a Solar Cooker. If the control s'more cooks as well as the ones in the Solar Cookers, you will know that the Solar Cookers aren't working better than the sun by itself. Predict how long you think it will take to cook the s'more and which cooker will get hotter and cook faster.
  15. You need the sun to make your Solar Cookers work, so you'll need to do your cooking outside.
  16. Once you set up your Solar Cookers outside, put a thermometer inside each one and one on the control s'more. This will help you compare the temperature in the Solar Cooker to the temperature outside. If the Solar Cookers are working, it will be hotter inside the cookers than it is outside on the control.
  17. Check your Solar Cookers every 15 minutes to make sure they aren't in the shade. If the sun moves, move the cookers so they stay in the sun.
  18. Time how long it takes to cook the s'mores. Which cooker got hotter? Which one baked more quickly? Why do you think it was faster? send your results to ZOOM.
  19. When your marshmallows are almost done, add the chocolate to the s'mores, wait a minute for it to get soft, and enjoy a tasty treat!


Can you think up an even better Solar Cooker design? You will need a container for the air, like a shoebox or a plastic container; something to let the sun shine in, like plastic wrap; and materials that help absorb the sunlight, like black paper. Build your Solar Cooker and compare its cooking time with the ones you've already tested. Did you improve the cooking time? Did the cooker get hotter? What did you change about the Solar Cooker design? What materials did you use to build it? Why do you think it was or wasn't faster? Be sure to share your predictions and conclusions with ZOOMscientists everywhere.

Some of your Results

Ahmod, age 8 of Rock Hill, SC wrote:
I try a cookie we cover the cookie with aluminum foil and put cut up cup overit and got a cardbord under it

Jake, age 10 of San Marcos, CA wrote:
I was able to cook lasana with my mom!

Amy, age 8 of New York City, NY wrote:
I uesd the Pizza Box cooker. Instead of a marshmallow I used a egg. It worked!

Justin, age 12 of Regina, SK wrote:
One of the solar cookers worked. It was the pizza box solar cooker.

Anna, age 10 of Pitman, NJ wrote:
It was pretty cool I did a marshmellow.

Zette, age 15 of New York wrote:
when I tryd this expirament it cooked my EGGS very WELL!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH, now I found a better and funner way to cook my egg's and other stuff I eat.

Matthew, age 11 of Austin, UT wrote:
it worked great I cooked pizza

Genna, age 12 of Arvada, CO wrote:
It almost blew up, but it ended up looking and tasting great.

Lilly, age 7 of Canterbury, CT wrote:
When I did my solar cooker it heated up hot enough to cook smores! I wanted some more!!!

Alex, age 12 of Houston, TX wrote:
it worked and it made smores for me and my friends. they were delicious. yum yum yum!!!

Kevaughn, age 12 of Richmond, VA wrote:
i cooked oatmeal but it took time

Nick, age 11 of Venice, FL wrote:
The pizza box cooker dominated the cone with a high temperature of 126!

Kyra, age 11 of Calgary, AB wrote:
it worked! it took a while to cook but it was greeeat!!!

Gary, age 14 of Panama City, FL wrote:
my pizza box cooked the smores quicker than the bigger one. then me and my sisters friends son helped me eat them. they were better than the microwave made ones that we tried afterwards.

Leslie, age 12 of Alpine, CA wrote:
well it was... sooo cool. I mean I would of had never thought it would actually work!

Shelby of AZ wrote:
it bakes eggs.

Alex, age 5 of Fort Wayne, IN wrote:
My hot dog exploded.

Jenni, age 10 of Burketown wrote:
My marshmallow caught on fire.

Jazmin, age 13 of Louisville, KY wrote:
It didn't work! I was sad that it dodn't. But my dad helped me redo it and it worked awesomely awesomely aewome! They were good!

Cassidy, age 11 of Oviedo, FL wrote:
When I first started I thought no way it will work but it did. Go ZOOM for the activity. I know I can havve a marshmellow s'moe on a hot day!

Jazmine, age 13 of Saint Paul, MN wrote:
it works it really does. I made smores and it taste so good.

Britney, age 9 of Maysville, KY wrote:
Everything worked out perfect. Another way you can do it is with an one pound oatmeal box and cut it in half and then put foil in it real tight.

Elizabeth, age 11 of SC wrote:
it work. I loved the cookies that I made one it. I love your solar oven.

Brendan, age 12 of Fort Pierce, FL wrote:
Unfortunately, the temp. in the pizza box rose only slightly, but not enough to cook it. The cone of the other one got hot, but not the box. No melting marshmallows. No warm tasty s'mores for me!

Niharika, age 16 of Varanasi, IN wrote:
It was awesome. Jst d bst way to preserve d environment n also a bst way to show our skill in improving d environment condition. I find this site as d bst!!!

Jesse, age 16 of Bethel, CT wrote:
The water heated up and it boiled! we did it in science class haha

Amy, age 6 of Middletown, MD wrote:
I cook a egg.

Jennifer, age 13 of Lakemba, NY wrote:
everything went right and it worked perfectly I loved the experiment. I would love you guys to make more fantastic experiments.

Jessica, age 12 of Sydney, BC wrote:
the water heated


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