Solar Week: Baking Cookies in a Shoebox

Solar Week Button

Celebrate the sun by baking cookies in a shoebox!  You don’t need an oven at all, just a shoebox or small shipping box, and a few supplies. This is a great activity to help kids realize the full power of the sun’s light and heat.

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Materials:

  • cookie dough or S’mores supplies (the most important part!)
  • a cardboard box with a lid (a shoebox, shipping box, etc.)
  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap
  • strong tape (shipping tape, duct tape, etc.)
  • scissors
  • a separate piece of cardboard (such as the side to a cereal box)

Making Your Shoebox Oven

If you have young kids, you might need to do some of the preparation, but your kids will probably love watching every step:

  1. Cut a square out of the lid of your box, so you have about an inch perimeter left around the rim.
  2. Your child can place black paper inside the box, covering the bottom.  It’s ok if the black paper goes up the sides…because it’s black – better head absorption!
  3. Lay out some tin foil in the bottom to act as the “cookie sheet” and place a few drops of cookie dough on top.  Or, at this point you might choose to use graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows – yum!
  4. Tape plastic wrap tightly across the inside of the opening in the lid with a strong tape. You want the plastic wrap to be as smooth as possible so the heated air is trapped inside the box.
  5. Close the box up and set in a place that will have direct sunlight all day.
  6. While your cookies are beginning to bake, use a new piece of cardboard (such as one side of a cereal box) to create a sun reflector.  Cover this piece of cardboard with foil. 
  7. Prop the reflector up with tape against the side of the boxed oven, and bend it slightly so it reflects the sun’s light directly onto the cookies.
  8. Wait several hours, checking your cookies frequently and adjusting the reflector to continue shining the brightest part of the light on the cookies.
  9. By the end of the day, you should have warm cookies to enjoy!

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How does this work?

Your box works as an oven because light is able to pass through the plastic wrap, but the heat is trapped inside!  The reflector creates extra light and heat exposure to the cookie dough. Sure, the cookies might not be done in 10-12 minutes as a typical electric or gas oven, but exposing your kids to the sun’s heat is a great lesson demonstrating the largest source of heat we have – the sun!

Extend It
Check out this experiment using a pizza box for a solar oven from the US Department of Energy.  It opens as a pfd.  If you would like the web-based version, access it through this link.  Try it out and your yard might be full of baking ovens!

solar ovens

What’s Next?  A Teaching Freebie!

Thanks so much for joining me for Solar Week.  Solar Energy is a “clean” and “renewable” form of energy, free for experimentation.  Tomorrow I will have a solar freebie download for all your faithful followers. I’ve assembled all these lessons into a downloadable document that you can access all in one place.  Thanks for following along!

Linking to Science Sunday, Summer Blog Carnival, Sunday Showcase, Saturday Show and Tell, Science Sparks

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25 thoughts on “Solar Week: Baking Cookies in a Shoebox

  1. Pingback: No Doubt Learning – Solar Week! | No Doubt Learning

  2. Absolutely doing this. My kids are young but will absolutely watch with delight. I’ve always been interested in making my own solar oven, but the glass part always discouraged me. Thanks for sharing this, now I just need to find a recipe.

  3. If you have younger kids and want to get quicker results, try baking smores. Lay the graham cracker out with the chocolate and a marshmallow on top. The marshmallow will get gooey…yum! Thanks for stopping by!

  4. What a great idea for this hot week coming up! Who am I kidding….its STILL hot here! May link up to this post on my blog later today! Such a great idea!

  5. I bet it’s hot there! Last week was SUPER hot here! I think if we had done the experiment this weekend, we would have had to wait longer because temperatures cooled off a bit (although maybe that wouldn’t have mattered). :) Great to connect!

  6. LOVE this! So much fun; I will have to try this with my boys soon! Easy and simple; love it! Thanks for sharing on Saturday Show & Tell at Cheerios and Lattes this weekend!
    If you’re interested, we would love to invite you to also link this up to the Summer Activities for Toddlers Collection! Here’s a quick link: http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com/summer-activities-for-toddlers/ This would be a perfect activity to do with young ones!
    Have a great week and hope to see you again next weekend! :)
    Mackenzie

  7. This has been on my to do list for years, but I keep not doing it. Probably because I rarely have intact boxes……..

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

  8. We did cookies in the middle of summer and it was super hot that week (like in the 100′s) – I think it took about 4 hours. We’re making solar ovens next week and we’re making smores, which might be a quicker, easier option (graham cracker, chocolate square, marshmallow).

  9. Sure! Just make sure that the foil covering the lid is facing the sun and reflecting the light onto the food. Or, consider trying the solar oven in the pizza box that I linked to towards the end of the post.

  10. Pingback: Science Sunday: talking to your kids about sex | Adventures in MommydomAdventures in Mommydom

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