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Summer Maker Workshop: Solar Ovens – Use Renewable Energy to Cook

Design, build, and test your very own solar oven during WonderLab’s Summer Maker Workshop. Solar ovens use renewable energy to cook food. Solar cookers are particularly useful when other sources of fuel are unavailable or to prevent the use of fossil fuels. Bonus, they do not pollute the environment when in use! During the workshop you’ll learn about historical uses of the solar oven dating back to 200 BCE, explore how solar ovens have evolved in design over thousands of years, and experiment with how solar rays can be harnessed and used as energy. 


  • Design a prototype.
  • Build your own solar oven with materials provided by WonderLab: recycled and new materials such as cardboard, corks, wood, hammer and nails, plexiglass, aluminum foil, clear plastic wrap, mirrors, glue guns, and more.
  • Test your oven in the WonderGarden (weather permitting) to make pizza and s’mores! If the weather is not conducive to cooking outside, we will have cooking demos inside using hot plates. 

About Solar Ovens: Solar ovens have been around for over 2200 years. The first documented use of solar ovens comes from an ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes. Using large flat rocks positioned under the sun, the Essenes would warm grains and other food for community meals. 

There’s close to 2000 years between the time of the Essenes and the first known successfully constructed solar oven developed by Horase de Saussure in 1776. The Genevan scientist used wood, glass, and cork insulation to make a “hot box” styled solar oven that collected enough of the sun’s rays to get up to 190 degrees Fahrenheit. Following that design, in 1869, mathematician Augustin Mouchot invented a solar oven that looked similar to the current day satellite dish. In 1876, physicist William Adams designed a solar oven that combined the “hot box” element of Saussure’s oven with Mouchot’s reflective paneling. By directing the sun’s rays directly to the food needing to be cooked, Adams developed a third style of solar cooker. Modern day solar ovens all stem from these three designs. During the Maker Workshop we will focus on creating solar ovens that are inspired by Saussure and Adams.

Disclaimer: The 2024 Maker Workshop series at WonderLab is dedicated to educating the museum’s community about astronomy through the lens of product design. These programs are developed in the effort to reach an older audience and engage them in continued scientific learning. Participants are encouraged to work alone, work together, and work creatively.

Recommended Ages: Ages 8+

Dates and Times: 

  • Saturday, July 13, 2024
  • 10am – 4pm or until supplies run out

Ticket Prices Include Museum Admission

  • $6 Members
  • $20 Non-Members
  • $8 Access Pass

What’s Included in the Ticket Price:

  • All materials and guidance –  no prior experience required!
  • Museum Admission for the full day.

Tickets: Tickets available on-line or at WonderLab

Buy Tickets: https://64603.blackbaudhosting.com/64603/Solar-Ovens

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