Designing Solar Ovens

Part of the "Solar Cooking" Collection


Students will design a solar oven and use it to cook vegetables.

Estimated Time

45 Minutes

Setting Required



  • S3P1. Students will investigate how heat is produced and the effects of heating and cooling, and will understand a change in temperature indicates a change in heat.
    • a. Categorize ways to produce heat energy such as burning, rubbing (friction), and mixing things.
    • b. Investigate how insulation affects heating and cooling.
    • c. Investigate the transfer of heat energy from the sun to various materials.
    • d. Use thermometers to measure the changes in temperatures of water samples over time.


  • Building materials
    • Pizza boxes, cardboard, poster board
    • Aluminum foil, clear plastic wrap
    • Colored construction paper, recycled paper
    • Glue, shoe laces, hole punchers, brads
  • Vegetable to cook in solar oven (can be harvested from the garden)
  • Instant-read thermometer


  1. Explain to students that they will use what they have learned about heat energy to design and build a solar oven in their small group. Give students the opportunity to research solar cookers from around the world and work together in their small groups to draw a sketch of the solar oven they plan to build, labeling it’s features.
  2. Provide a variety of materials for small groups to use and allow students to bring items from home as well. Allow for work time within the class to construct the solar oven.
  3. When the solar ovens have been constructed, provide each small group with a slice of a vegetable to cook throughout the day. At the end of the day, students can use a instant-read thermometer to determine which groups vegetable got the warmest and presumably cooked the most.
  4. Provide time for students to consider how they could re-design their solar oven for the highest effectiveness. If time allows, provide time for students to re-build and repeat their design challenge to compare results again.