One of the best experiences I ever had was when I participated in a local solar energy science fair. Despite my professional experience, as it turns out when I was a kid, I was never very good at science, so I saw this as a challenge. I enjoy doing new things, especially activities that I don’t have a lot of experience in. I initially thought it wouldn’t go very well, but then I thought of something that I had seen on a camping trip years ago, and decided to make one. Instead of creating something with solar panels like everyone else was, I decided to focus on what I enjoy the most: food! That’s when I decided to make my very first solar cooker. To be honest, I didn’t win the contest, but I did have a lot of fun and I figured out how to make one with really simple steps. Let me tell you what I did, and maybe you can do the same.
The first thing you need are a couple boxes. They don’t have to be very big, but one has to be a little smaller than the other. That’s because in between the gap created by the different box sizes, you have to insert shredded newspaper. This will be a makeshift insulator that is necessary for the solar oven to work. Another thing you will need are pieces of black construction paper that you put inside the smaller box. Outside of the solar oven, you need to have reflective panels that can focus the light, at 45 degree angles, into the box where the food will be cooked. What I did was wrap tinfoil around four square pieces of cardboard, and propped them up with dowels so I could adjust the angle.
The last part of the process is the easiest: put your food in the center of the box! Depending upon what you’re cooking, and the time of year that you make the box, it could take several hours for the sun to cook your food. You can literally make anything in this solar cooker including soup, appetizers, salads, casseroles, desserts and even bread. There are also lots of recipes on the Internet that you can access for free, so no matter what type of food you would like to cook, there is probably a recipe for it on the Internet. It was a very exciting project for me, and I’m glad I took the time to try it out. Hopefully this little experience that I had making a makeshift solar cooker for a solar energy science fair project will inspire you to try to make one yourself.