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.
- 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.)
- 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:
- Cut a square out of the lid of your box, so you have about an inch perimeter left around the rim.
- 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!
- 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!
- 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.
- Close the box up and set in a place that will have direct sunlight all day.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wait several hours, checking your cookies frequently and adjusting the reflector to continue shining the brightest part of the light on the cookies.
- By the end of the day, you should have warm cookies to enjoy!
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!
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!
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!