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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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Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Energy Literacy

Access to energy resources affects quality of life.
Other materials addressing:
7.5 Access to energy affects quality of life.
The quality of life of individuals and societies is affected by energy choices.
Other materials addressing:
Energy affects quality of life .
Humans transfer and transform energy from the environment into forms useful for human endeavors.
Other materials addressing:
4.1 Humans transfer and transform energy.
Other materials addressing:
Various sources of energy are used to power human activities .

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Energy from the sun (and the wind and water energy derived from it) is available indefinitely. Because the transfer of energy from these resources is weak and variable, systems are needed to collect and concentrate the energy.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
When selecting fuels, it is important to consider the relative advantages and disadvantages of each fuel.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
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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