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NEED, Department of Energy


5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Physics, Earth and Space Sciences, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Projects
  • Lesson Plans

Regional Focus




Making a Solar Oven

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  • This activity from the US Department of Energy teaches students about solar ovens and provides instructions on building a simple solar cooker.
  • The resource is a downloadable PDF with detailed instructions. 

Teaching Tips


  • Students will be engaged in building a solar oven that actually works.
  • Students of different learning types will be engaged in this hands-on activity.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There is a list of materials needed for students to construct the ovens, but students could easily substitute with other materials.
  • You could provide context for the activity with this resource about greenhouse gas emissions and this one about climate solutions.


  • Social studies classes could use this resource to discuss solutions for communities experiencing power outages or in areas without electricity.
  • A discussion about renewable energy and the use of solar in different parts of the world would be a logical follow-up to this activity.
  • Have students carry out modifications to the provided design and challenge them to optimize their cookers.
  • Similar resources to consider include this video about reusing materials to make a solar oven and these resources about "daylighting" homes and buildings and passive home design.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a lesson plan describing how do build a solar oven as well as how a solar oven works. The lesson plan comes from the Department of Energy, and is clearly presented and simple. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Science
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • 3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
      • MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
    • PS1: Matter and Its Interactions
      • 5-PS1-3. Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
      • MS-PS1-6. Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.
    • PS3: Energy
      • MS-PS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
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