Monday, August 19, 2013

Cooking with the Sun

One hot-dog cooker.
On August 14, our Science-Nature Club met to have some summer-solar fun. Robin and Billie led the meeting in which club members learned about solar energy by making two different types of solar ovens.

The first part of the activity was making a hot-dog oven. Each family brought a Pringles can which were then cut, taped, and formed into the perfect solar oven to cook hot dogs. Robin described the process of making the ovens and how the sun cooks the food inside. The children then skewered their hot dogs and put them in the ovens to sit in the sun.

Several hot-dog cookers.
While the hot dogs cooked, Billie led the group in building solar ovens out of pizza boxes. The kids lined the boxes with aluminum foil and added black paper to the inside. The group discussed the two energy principles used in the pizza solar oven. The black construction paper and non-shiny side of the aluminum foil absorbs then traps the heat, while the shiny side of the foil reflects the heat into the box. They then built open faced s'mores in the boxes and put them in the sun to get soft. Everyone soon realized that putting the chocolate on the bottom (per instructions) was not the right procedure as they faced gooey chocolate, but firm marshmallows! As with all experiments, each one teaches many lessons to apply to future experiments. Making s'mores is one experiment the kids would enjoy doing over and over again.

Pizza-box solar cooker for s'mores.
During the cooking time, the kids spent time "ice bowling" and enjoying the park play structure. Finally, the best part came--eating their experiments. Although the s'mores were not perfect, the hot dogs warmed all the way through within 30 minutes and all was enjoyed thoroughly. Everyone agreed that solar cooking is easy, fun, and delicious.
--text by Billie S.
--photos by Evie M.

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