Welcome to week 2 of DIY summer science camp. Just like last week there is a slight element of failure, but that's all part of the process, right? That's what I tell myself anyway.
Whenever we go on vacation and have access to some sort of yard, we make s'mores. I know you can make them in a regular oven and all that, but, really? That just doesn't seem right to me. Last year we made s'mores over the campfire, but as we visited during fire season this year we were forced to explore alternative methods. What could be less likely to start a wildfire than a solar oven? We decided to try making solar oven s'mores and during the process discovered a second way to make s'mores, too!
My dad had the brilliant idea of using an empty tool box as the oven. We covered a baking tray with foil and set it inside the box. In the lid we placed a sheet of cardboard, also covered with foil. We propped the tool box oven on the porch railing, but if you need to, you can use a stick or ruler to keep the top open at the correct angle so the sun bounces off the foil towards the s'mores.
To help the marshmallows get gooey faster, we tore them up into little bits. I also broke up the chocolate into small pieces.
It wasn't a very hot day, but the sun was quite strong. Our solar oven s'mores got off to a slow start. The chocolate did get soft right away (as chocolate does), but the marshmallows were a harder sell. They definitely got softer, but were a far cry from gooey. I speculated to the boys that they simply had too many chemicals and preservatives in them to melt. "Moooooooom!" they replied. Although I do believe they secretly agreed with me.
Then we had the brilliant idea of getting out the magnifying glass to concentrate the solar power on the s'mores!
It actually worked well and we quickly had our solar oven s'mores smoking! Never mind that they now looked like they had the pox, what will all the little black spots the sun burned into them.
The magnifying glass worked splendidly on the chocolate, too, quickly melting it into an ooey-gooey mess. It even burned tiny spots into the crackers.
So, even though the solar oven didn't work perfectly, it was successful enough that the boys got some hands on experience with the power of the sun. Plus, what better way to celebrate science learning that finishing off with a tasty treat?
See all our summer science camp ideas!
In case you want to go all out and construct a solar oven from a pizza box, check out this video how to: