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Making a Solar Oven

Authors: NEED, Department of Energy
Grades: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Subjects: Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering, Computer Science & Design Thinking
Format: PDF
Resource Types:
  • Project
  • Lesson Plan
Synopsis

  • This activity from the US Department of Energy teaches students about solar ovens and provides instructions on building a simple solar cooker.
  • The resource is a downloadable PDF with detailed instructions. 

Teaching Tips

Positives

  • Students will be engaged in building a solar oven that actually works.
  • Students of different learning types will be engaged in this hands-on activity.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There is a list of materials needed for students to construct the ovens, but students could easily substitute with other materials.
  • You could provide context for the activity with this resource about greenhouse gas emissions and this one about climate solutions.

Differentiation

  • Social studies classes could use this resource to discuss solutions for communities experiencing power outages or in areas without electricity.
  • A discussion about renewable energy and the use of solar in different parts of the world would be a logical follow-up to this activity.
  • Have students carry out modifications to the provided design and challenge them to optimize their cookers.
  • Similar resources to consider include this video about reusing materials to make a solar oven and these resources about "daylighting" homes and buildings and passive home design.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a lesson plan describing how do build a solar oven as well as how a solar oven works. The lesson plan comes from the Department of Energy, and is clearly presented and simple. This resource is recommended for teaching.
Standards
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • PS1: Matter and its Interactions
      • MS-PS1-6 Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.
      • 5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
    • PS3: Energy
      • MS-PS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
      • HS-PS3-3 Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.11-12.4 Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 11-12 texts and topics.

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