Solar Pizza Oven

Solar pizza oven ~45 Minutes

Objectives: The objective of this activity is to construct a functional solar-powered oven using a limited number of supplies and a pizza box.

-distinguish among the various forms of energy. (grade 4)
-demonstrate and explain different methods of energy transfer and relate them to daily life. (grade 4)
-demonstrate and explain how basic concepts relating to heat and light are used in common applications. (grade 4)

Materials: Pizza box, black construction paper, aluminum foil, saran wrap, hot dogs, toothpicks, tape, thermometers, glue, and activity worksheet.

Doing it:
A1. In groups of 2, ask students to think of a way one could cook a hot dog without having any impact on the environment (electricity, fire, gas...).
A2. Review some of the concepts previously covered in the class relating to solar energy, such as reflection and absorption.
A3. handout the activity worksheet and materials for the pizza box solar oven.

B1. Students will be given 20 minutes to create their solar oven and complete the Pre-Cook-Off section of their worksheet.
B2. students will carry their ovens outside to test their solar-appliances. Students will record their data and observations on their worksheets, which are to be handed in at the end of class.

Fig 1.1 - Example of a pizza oven

PDF Worksheet

You may take different properties of light into account when you make your pizza oven. We used the good absorption factor of the colour black, and the reflective properties of the foil. The Black insides of the oven absorbed maximum solar energy converting it to heat, while the foil reflected even more solar energy onto the black insides to be absorbed. We also placed a sheet of plastic wrap over top of the oven, to still let light through but help trap the heat.

Experiment Feedback

Solar pizza oven feedback.
From Erika Lundgren and Brent Foster, tested on a grade 8 class, March 13 2006
The lesson plan for the Pizza Box Solar Activity was designed for a kindergarten teacher in the sense that it tells the students, step-by-step, how to make the oven; it also implies that there is only one way to make the oven. In order to meet the Grade Eight curriculum and the needs of our students Brent and I decided to create an activity sheet/lab for the students that provided minimal directions; our intent being to provide the students with a goal (a solar powered oven) and the materials to reach that goal. The questions on the activity sheet were meant to scaffold the students, and to make them think critically about the scientific significance of the materials before them. When we presented this activity in our Science Education class everyone was involved. Cooperative learning took place as students were using their background knowledge of insulation, solar energy, reflection, and absorption. The end result was a wide variety of individualized pizza ovens. Each group was asked to present their oven, and to explain why it would achieve the best results (highest temperature). Unfortunately, we neither had the time nor the weather to test the ovens, but if we did Brent and I would have asked the groups to brainstorm how they could improve their oven and then tried it next time. This activity was enjoyable for the students and teachers, and could be adapted to fit the Grade Eight curriculum. It gets the students involved, thinking critically, and making predictions. Both Brent and I would use this activity in the classroom.