Tapestry of Faith: Sing to the Power: A Social Justice Program for Children Grades 4-5

Activity 3: Build a Solar Oven

Activity time: 25 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 1, Building a Solar Oven - Instructions
  • Cardboard pizza box, a ruler, a marker, a box knife or sharp scissors, aluminum foil, black construction paper, clear plastic wrap, and glue
  • A stick, large straw, or wooden spoon
  • A tin pie plate or a glass dish
  • Ingredients to cook a treat such as hot dogs, bread or tortillas with melted cheese, or s'mores
  • Oven mitts
  • Optional: Computer with Internet access

Preparation for Activity

  • The oven will only work in full sunlight. The best hours to set up your solar oven are when the sun is high overhead, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Identify a sunny outdoor location or a full-sun window to set up and try the completed solar oven. Bear in mind that the amount and intensity of sunlight will affect cooking time for a treat. Make sure children can come back later to enjoy their treat. Or, you may wish to construct the solar oven in this session, and use it for cooking in a later session.
  • If you are unlikely to have access to full sunlight, decide whether (a) the group will build the oven but not try it, and you will explain that solar power only works when the sun is out, or (b) you will use Alternate Activity 2, Wind-Powered Penny Races, instead.
  • Decide how you will divide tasks so that everyone can be involved in building a single unit, or set out sufficient materials that each person can build their own solar oven.
  • Set out materials so they are easily accessible.
  • Optional: See how to build a pizza box solar oven on YouTube before using the instructions provided in Leader Resource 1. You may decide to show the 3:00 video to the group.
  • Optional: Preview a video clip (2:18) about "Solar Demi," a man who recycles soda bottles to bring solar lighting to homes in a Philippine village, and queue up the clip to show the children. While it is in Tagalog with English subtitles, the pictures tell the story well.

Description of Activity

To combat climate change, we must explore renewable, non-polluting sources of energy, such as solar power. Participants experience building a solar oven, one way to harness the sun's power and to flex our "fire power" to fight climate change.

Invite the children to help you follow the instructions in Leader Resource 1 for constructing a solar oven.

As participants work, invite them to reflect on how solar ovens might make a difference in fighting climate change. Ask:

  • Would solar ovens be a good alternative for those of us who are used to cooking with electricity or gas that comes into our homes? Why, or why not? [not enough sunlight, takes too long]
  • What about people in a hot, dry climate who cook with firewood? Would solar ovens work better in a place like that? Why might the solar oven be a good alternative? [firewood is not always available, firewood requires cutting down trees, which are keep the air clean for breathing; for people in hot, dry, climates, solar powered cooking can make a big difference in a way that doesn't require complicated technology, which may not be available]

Optional: Show the YouTube video that shows how one man is bringing light to village homes in the Philippines using soda bottles as solar light bulbs. Explain that these solar lights are an example of other creative uses of solar power. Invite participants to suggest other ways people might use solar power instead of pollution-creating electric power in their daily lives.

Including All Participants

If you decide to have each participant make their own solar oven, rather than constructing one as a group, but are concerned that individual class members may not be able to do all steps of the project, have participants work in pairs, so that tasks can be shared in a way that allows everyone to be successful.