Wanting to add in a bit of geography by exploring about France, we had read in our atlas how France will be providing the United Kingdom with enough electricity to power one light bulb in every home. This lead to our discussion of the world’s problem of energy consumption and how the sun is an unfailing source of energy.
The only way to test out the power of the sun is to bake chocolate chip cookies of course.
Creating a Solar Oven
What you need:
Place the small pizza box on top of the larger pizza box with one side touching. Using the marker, draw an outline on top of the larger pizza box because you will be cutting on that line.
Cut on the line with your sharp craft knife and don’t cut all the way through. Basically you will be creating a lid on the bigger box when you cut on the line.
Then next we lined the inside of the bigger box with aluminum foil and then we stuffed newspaper or if you have polystyrene to fill the space on the outside edges. We just did our best in wadding the paper up small so it fit snugly all the way around the inside edges.
Next, we worked on the small pizza box. Instead of using non-toxic black paint to paint the bottom of the small box because we only had acrylic paint and I don’t think it’s so non-toxic (you certainly could make your own natural paint too), we used black construction paper to put on the bottom inside box.
Then, we placed the small pizza box with black construction paper and put it inside the larger box. You see from the picture above, we have two lids as well. Be sure the lids from each box are next to each other and not both on the same side because you will be using the lids to grab the sun and form a “corner”. After that, we got more newspaper and wadded it up real good and stuffed more down in the crevice between the larger and smaller box just to be sure we had it insulated real well.
By the way, we used plain old Elmer’s glue (non-toxic) to hold the black construction paper in place on the small box. Also glue black paper or use your non-toxic black paint to paint the outside edges of the bigger box too. This helps to hold the heat in.
As you can see in the picture above we have added our black construction paper to the outside bigger box. The next thing we did was to line the inside smaller box and lid and the lid of the bigger box with aluminum foil. I wish we would have known earlier too, but try to keep the aluminum foil as wrinkle free as possible so it reflects light into the box and it is not bouncing.
The next thing now to do is to make a small hole at the top of both lids, wide enough for your string to go through. You want the lids to stand up and form that “corner” I mentioned earlier. Just tape the string on the back of the box after you pull it tight to keep the lids up.
The final touch is to add some chocolatey goodness to your solar oven and you’re ready to bake! One more thing, be sure to cover the cookies with some plastic wrap. Seal it tight because you want to hold the heat in.
Using his sunglasses so the sun and reflection from the foil doesn’t hurt his eyes, Tiny adjusted the oven for best exposure, and we waited, waited and waited.
Doing this in the winter, we didn’t have real strong sunlight the whole day and the mornings were cool. But even with those factors, we were pretty happy with the results after a few hours.
It could take anywhere from 30 minutes to hours before you see progress depending on weather factors.
And then presto! Tiny was pleased. Our cookies took several hours to cook, (tip: don’t let your kids know, but try to keep them small so they will bake faster) but then again it probably didn’t help that Tiny had to check on them about 300 times and with a magnifying glass to speed up the process.
It was a great way to spend the day waiting and anticipating chocolate chip cookies!
And oh yes, talking about the culture of France too!
Also, you’ll love my free French Revolution 1789 – 1799 Unit Study & Lapbook and my hands-on activities category.
Hugs and love ya,