Teaching kids about renewable resources doesn’t always have to be a lecture or a lesson on paper.
For example, all ages can appreciate a sun-cooked food festival, and the solar process makes for good dinner conversation. Getting outside and providing some hands-on explanation of how the sun’s energy can be applied is useful, teaches self-reliance and sustainability, and is fun for kids.
Campfires and hot dog roasts are a rite of passage in some childhood circles. Instead of building a fire, build a solar hot dog cooker.
Host an activity and have kids bring their own cardboard box. Gather a few supplies like tin foil and poster board and with a sunny day they can make their own solar ovens to cook their hot dogs in. Other foods can be used, too, like veggie dogs or vegetables to cover everyone’s preferences. The shape of the oven can be altered to fit favorite items.
The Solar Company has directions and a diagram for a solar box type oven. Tubular containers, like Pringles cans, are ideal for this project and are lined to adequately reflect the sun’s radiant energy.
Longer boxes work best for this project to trap heat in. Create a curved lid to put on top of the box and cover it with aluminum foil, applying it smoothly. Support the sides of the box with a sturdy paper, making sure that sunlight is focused into the center of the box. Place a skewer in the middle, add a hot dog and let the sun do the rest.
They should be cooked until roasted thoroughly and do not let them sit out once done. Have cooking thermometers on hand so kids can learn about food safety and investigate how long it takes the temperature to rise in the food.
A simple solar made refreshment to accompany the cookout is sun tea. Making it allows kids to have a quickly working visual to explain the sun’s ability to heat liquids. They can check in as the sun warms the water in a glass container and disperses the tea.
Use smaller glass jars with one tea bag inside for individual servings in a ready-to-go cup. Going-Green-Challenge has recipes for solar punch and Russian sun tea.
These outdoor activities help put sun power in perspective with tangible results kids can understand.
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