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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.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-2 Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
      • 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.
    • PS1: Matter and its Interactions
      • MS-PS1-6 Undertake a design project to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.
      • 5-PS1-3 Make observations and measurements to identify materials based on their properties.
    • PS3: Energy
      • MS-PS3-3 Apply scientific principles to design, construct, and test a device that either minimizes or maximizes thermal energy transfer.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.3 Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
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