This summer we have not only been interested in our ocean theme, but also science activities. The opportunity to take advantage of the nice summer sun has been so approved of by the children. Our most recent activity was baking S’mores in a DIY Solar Oven. We learned how from a Steve Spangler SICK! science YouTube video. There is also a blog post by NASA that explains another way to make this oven. The NASA page explains that people in Africa are using solar ovens to boil water and make it safe for drinking. That is a good idea anywhere the sun would be hot enough to make it work. It is amazing the sun is such an energy source and the children like learning about the possibilities.
DIY Solar Oven
This post also has a free printable with directions for making S’mores three different ways: over a fire, in a solar oven, and also in the microwave. Following directions for something engaging like an edible science experiment helps children with sequencing and organizing skills. I’m sure you like your children to listen to you without having to repeat yourself over and over, and step by step experiments will help in this area.
I didn’t have a pizza box in reasonable shape, so we used a different box and I just tried to follow the directions approximately. We wanted to try these S’mores, so I used a box we had available. Aluminum foil goes inside the lid, around the inside sides of the box, and on the inside box bottom. Of course, a reflector oven for camping would also work.
Next, following the directions, I taped the black paper inside the bottom of the box leaving a few inches of foil around the outside. I added some plastic sticks to the sides to help keep the lid propped open during baking outside.
The S’mores are now placed on the black paper cooking surface. The method explained on the NASA page adds the chocolate after the marshmallows are hot.
Time to Bake the S’Mores
After wrapping the top of the box with plastic wrap (although the video said to use page protectors) it was placed in the sun. I just wrapped the plastic around the top and down to the bottom of the box to hold it in place as my box didn’t open.
The baking takes about 30 to 60 minutes. Don’t even bother to try this on a cloudy day. I tried for the sake of experimentation and nothing happened. UV rays might still reach your skin, but they do nothing for a solar oven if it is cloudy outside. The marshmallows actually get toasty and nice like they were cooked a little over a fire outside.
You can now even make s’mores in a restaurant, did you know?
Now for the freebie. There are 3 pages of directions: one for a microwave oven, one for using a solar oven, and one for the microwave approach. Children can read the directions and prepare the s’mores for the family. Sneak in some summer reading!
Carolyn Wilhelm is the author of The Wise Owl Factory site and blog. She has an MS in Gifted Education, an MA in Curriculum and Instruction K-12, and has completed the KHT Montessori 12 month program. She makes mostly free resources for teachers and parents. Her children's books are available on Amazon. She was a public school teacher for 28 years, three of those in a desegregation school, five in schools with the Minneapolis Choice is Yours program as a Wayzata teacher. She has been trained in numerous areas such as CGI Math, the National Urban Alliance, reading strategies, writing workshop, and others listed on her about page.
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