The gift of the Sun to the Earth

Imagine that it's a beautiful sunny day and you decide to go for a walk. You can feel the sunlight warming up your face. And then you think.. What exactly is this that is actually making you feel warm? The answer of course is solar energy! The energy that the sun produces and that is transferred to earth through the sunlight. The amount of sunlight that reaches Earth varies depending on location, time of day, time of year, and weather conditions. For example countries that are closer to the equator of the Earth are receiving more sunlight and they get warmer. 

The sun has produced energy for billions of years! This means solar energy has been used by people for hundreds of years to cook food, keep warm, and to dry clothes. Today, it is also used to create electricity. Solar cells turn light from the sun into electricity. They are also called photovoltaic cells. ‘Photo’ is Latin for light and ‘voltaic’ means electricity.

Solar cells are put together to make solar panels, that are put on your home’s roof to collect sunlight and turn it int power. If you have seen big shiny panels on the roof of a house, that house is using solar energy! Solar energy can be used to power anything in your house that needs electricity.

The best thing about solar energy is that it is a renewable. That means that as long as the sun shines, we will never run out of it. Another advantage of using solar power is that it is friendly for the environment. There aren't any toxic waste coming out of it and it's also very cheap!

At the following experiment we are going to use solar energy to make a solar oven and then cook a snack that you love! The solar energy will melt some cheese on  your nachos! Yummy!  

What you are going to need: 

  • pizza box
  • sheet of plastic (a report cover or page protector works great)
  • foil
  • tape
  • a piece of study wire or a pencil

How to make a solar oven:

  • Cut 3/4 of a square out of the lid of the pizza box. Make it big as this is your solar panel, but leave one side attached. Tape a piece of foil to cover the underside of it.
  • Open the box and tape your sheet of plastic to the underside of the lid, so it is covered. Be sure to make a decent seal, as this will trap the heat in the oven.
  • Line the inside of the box, including sides, with foil.
  • Use a piece of wire wedged into the little holes in the sides of the box or a pencil to prop open the lid.
  • Put some food inside. Nachos work great as they don’t spoil easily.
  • Close the lid and place the oven in a sunny spot in which the solar panel faces direct sunlight.
  • Wait. Wait. Wait. And eat!
  • Of course, it goes without saying, be sure to recycle these ovens when you’re done.