Tag Archives: Solar Oven

STEM Skills Challenge Series

What if STEM stood for something different? As you know, the actual acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math, but aside from content, the concept encompasses many more essential skills like: problem solving, critical thinking, team-building, self-esteem, self-motivation and more.

At a recent symposium in the Seattle area, business leaders were surveyed regarding the skills, attitudes, attributes, and aspirations that they feel are the most important to the success of students in the future. Among the results?

  • Critical thinking, learning, and analytical problem solving
  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Self-direction and self-awareness
  • Technical skills and computer literacy
  • Fundamentals of education including math, science, and English
  • Creativity
  • Cultural competence and global awareness
  • Emotional intelligence

This series on STEM Skills Challenges will harness the power of STEM challenges and focus on these essential success skills that our students need to be effective in the STEM workforce.

Get the STEM Skills Challenge Bundle Pack with all 10 Design Challenges!



The Brown Bag STEM Challenge- Solar Ovens

The Brown Bag STEM Challenge- Solar Ovens

In honor of summer (and memorial Day picnics), this week’s Brown Bag STEM Challenge is designing and building a solar oven…and to test it out, what better than to make some s’mores!


  • Pizza Boxes
  • Construction paper- Black
  • Construction paper- Other Colors
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Graham Crackers
  • Marshmallows (Large)
  • Glue/ Tape
  • Wax Paper
  • Scissors
  • craft sticks
  • A sunny day!

When preparing this activity, the teacher should make sure that all pizza boxes are the same size (I prefer the medium boxes- they are big enough for the kids to work with, but small enough to see decent results) and from the same restaurant.  For a class of 30, only about eight boxes are needed, so you might consider asking a pizza place to donate them to your classroom.

Students will work together to design the best (fastest working) solar oven from the materials available.

When it is time to test, students can place their solar ovens in the sun. At the same time, assemble a s’more (graham cracker with a marshmallow on top) and place it on a paper plate in the sun to use as a control group.  After an amount of time, check the ovens and see the results.

For higher ability groups, students can place a thermometer inside each pizza box (and one with the control s’more) to log the temperatures at set intervals until the s’more(s) have melted to see which solar oven is the most efficient.

So, what did we learn?
National Science Standards: Abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry, understanding about scientific inquiry, properties of objects and materials, transfer of energy, abilities of technological design, understanding science and technology, science as a human endeavor.

NCTM Standards: Understand measurable attributes of objects and the units, systems, and processes of measurement, apply appropriate techniques, tools, and formulas to determine measurements, Formulate questions that can be addressed with data and collect, organize, and display relevant data to answer them, develop and evaluate inferences and predictions that are based on data, build new mathematical knowledge through problem solving, Solve problems that arise in mathematics and other contexts, Apply and adapt a variety of appropriate strategies to solve problems, and monitor and reflect on the process of mathematical problem solving

Other STEM skills: Communication, critical thinking, problem solving, observation, collaboration, data recording, data analysis, teamwork, practice identifying dependent and independent variables, and controls/constants.

Get the Bundle Pack with 10 Design Challenges including the Solar Oven Design Brief and Notebook Pages!

Not sure about purchasing the entire bundle yet?  Give the Solar Ovens Design Challenge a try!



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