STREAM Activity: Solar Oven

What can you bake in the sun?

Activity best for children age 4 and up

What is giant, yellow, in the sky and gives us life and warmth? The Sun! The sun is the center of our Solar System and is a star, not a planet, like Earth. On Earth we have land, water, plants, animals and people. On the Sun there are only very hot gasses. The sun is such a giant star that 1 million Earths could fit inside of! Not only does the sun provide daylight and warmth for Earth, but the Sun’s gravity is what keeps Earth and the other planets and moons in our solar system from floating away. Life on Earth needs energy to grow and the sun gives us that energy.  Think of flowers that grow from seeds. The light and the warmth from the sun gives the seeds the energy to grow into flowers.

Another way we can use the energy of the sun is to power our modern world. We need electricity for our homes, schools and, offices. Having solar panels on the roof of these buildings catches the energy of the sun and then we can use that energy to power our modern life. Scientists are working on putting solar panels on more than just buildings. How cool would it be to drive a solar powered car? This activity let’s you try being a solar power engineer by building your own solar powered oven from a box!

Materials you’ll need:

Box with a lid (shoe box or pizza box)

Black paper

Tin foil

Plastic wrap


Long wooden skewer 

Marshmallows and graham crackers (optional)

Guiding Questions:

Why are we using shiny tin foil on part of the “oven”?

How does the black paper help the “oven”?

Will it take a long time or short time to warm something up in the “oven”?

What else needs sunshine and warmth to grow?


Cut a flip in the lid of the box.

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Cover this flip with tin foil. Make sure that you can see the shiny side.

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Cover the inside and bottom of the box with the tin foil and then cover the bottom with black paper. The foil will reflect the sunlight into the box helping to “heat” it up. The black paper helps to absorb the sunlight that is reflected and heat up the box.

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Cover the lid on the inside of the box with plastic wrap. This will help keep the heat in the box.

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Use a long stick to prop open your shiny foil covered lid. You want to have it face the sun as much as possible.

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If it is a very hot day whatever you put in the “oven” should melt or get warm after some time. See how long it takes to  melt a marshmallow. On a cooler day it may take your oven longer to get warm.

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Grown ups, are you looking for more ways to extend your child’s learning? Check out these extension activities to build upon today’s STREAM activity!

Reading Connection
Running on Sunshine by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano
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Real World Connections
Ask your grown up if you have solar panels on your house. Take a walk in your neighborhood and see if any of the houses have solar panels. What other ways can we use solar energy?

Science Connections
Take 2 ice cubes. Place one in a sunny spot and the other one in a shady spot. Observe which one melts faster. Why do you think it melted faster? Or slower?