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Cooking with Sol

NEED, Department of Energy

This activity from the Department of Energy provides background information about solar ovens and instructions on building a simple model solar cooker.

Activity takes about one 45- to 60-minute period to build cooker; more time needed for use and experimentation. Additional materials required.

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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • A great way of introducing solutions while exploring the science of the first Climate Literacy Principle: The Sun is the primary source of energy for Earth's climate system: http://cleanet.org/clean/literacy/index.html.
  • A discussion about renewable energies and the use of solar in different part of the world will be a logical follow-up to this activity.
  • Use an overhead projector to trace out the pattern provided.
  • Create reading guide for passage provided.
  • Have students carry out modifications to provided design and challenge them to optimize their cookers.

About the Science

  • Reading passage explains the basics of a solar cooker and goes into detail about how they can be used by people all over the world - including third world countries and the military.
  • This description of a solar oven stresses the concept of reflectivity and absorption. However the term albedo is not introduced.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Provides instructions for building a simple solar cooker, but the teacher will have to provide context for the activity and use of the cooker.
  • Also investigate other solar oven designs: http://solarcooking.org/plans/
  • The more sophisticated and durable, the more likely the cookers will actually be used more than once.
  • Engaging to build a solar oven and very instructive to see how well they work.
  • Students of different learning types will be engaged in this activity.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • No picture is included of a final oven. It will be helpful to see a model version of the oven that is to be built.

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