Solar Ovens: Y3/4 Design and Technologies Teaching Unit


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This unit looks at the role of people in the design of solar ovens for countries such as Africa. It provides lesson ideas for students to investigate the properties of materials before designing and making their own solar oven. For more lesson ideas visit:

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Solar Ovens: Y3/4 Design and Technologies Teaching Unit

  1. 1. SOLAR OVENS A year 3/4 Design and Technologies Unit By Joanne Villis
  2. 2. AUSTRALIAN CURRICULUM DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGIES (Y3-4) Recognise the role of people in design and technologies occupations and explore factors, including sustainability that impact on the design of products, services and environments to meet community needs (ACTDEK010) Investigate the suitability of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment for a range of purposes (ACTDEK013)
  3. 3. SOLAR OVENS Aims: Students discuss the suitability of solar ovens for communities. Students recognise the role of people in the design and implementation of solar ovens in Africa. Students test materials for their appropriateness for a solar oven. This teaching idea can be integrated with the Primary Connections Year 3 Science program Heating Up. The Science content descriptor for this unit is: Physical Science: Heat can be produced in many ways and can move from one object to another (ACSSU049)
  4. 4. SOLAR OVENS Lesson 1-3: Introduction to solar ovens Inform students that they are going to design and make a solar oven. However, before they can begin their design they need to know what a solar oven is and why they have been designed. Watch ‘Thirsty Planet’ , pausing throughout the video and discussing various elements. The video is embedded on the following slide.
  5. 5. SOLAR OVENS Focus questions for ‘Thirsty Planet’: What were some of the problems for the communities in in the video? At the beginning of the video, what were they using as their source of heat and why was this a problem? Why is their source of heat not a sustainable energy source? What materials were used for the construction of the solar ovens and why were they chosen? What was the sustainable energy source being used to heat food/water in the solar ovens?
  6. 6. SOLAR OVENS Focus questions for ‘Thirsty Planet’: Why didn’t the people in the community believe that solar ovens will work? What role did the volunteers play? How did they introduce the new technology to people in the community? How do you think the solar ovens might impact the communities in the videos? Do you think solar ovens can be used in Australia? Explain your reason.
  7. 7. SOLAR OVENS Lesson 4 & 5: Material investigation Show students a range of materials which will be available for them to use when making their solar oven. Examples may include; different coloured pieces of paper, cardboard, plastic, alfoil, oven bake paper and fabric. Explain to students that before they begin designing their solar oven they need to test which materials will be suitable for different parts of their oven. Discuss the different parts of a solar oven. For example, a part which reflects the heat from the sun to the food, the outside and inside of the solar oven, the material which is wrapped around the food and so forth.
  8. 8. SOLAR OVENS Lesson 4 & 5 continued: Material investigation Invite students to select one part of solar oven to investigate. The ask students to write an investigative question. For example, which materials will keep the heat inside the oven, what materials will stop the heat from escaping or which materials will reflect the heat from the sun? Once students have created their investigative question they do the following: 1. Write a procedure/method of what they are going to do to investigate their question. 2. Write a list of the materials needed. 3. Conduct their investigation.
  9. 9. SOLAR OVENS Lesson 4 & 5 continued: Material investigation 4. Record and share their findings. If students have 1:1 devices use padlet which is a free online collaborative tool to share students’ discoveries. If students do not have 1:1 devices use post it notes or allow students to share their discoveries on a white board. Images below are for visual purposes, they are not examples from this unit plan.
  10. 10. SOLAR OVENS Lesson 6 & 7: Design and Making Let students know that they are going to design and make a solar oven using a pizza box as a base. To locate pizza boxes I go to my local ‘commercial’ pizza restaurant, introduce myself as a teacher and let them know why I am seeking unused pizza boxes (ie educational purposes). They are then more than happy to sell pizza boxes to me for twenty cents each. To give students some guidance as to how to use a pizza box I like to show them the video which is embedded on the following page ( ). However, if you would like to make the task more open to creative thinking you may choose to skip this video.
  11. 11. SOLAR OVENS Lesson 6 & 7: Design and Making Show students the additional materials which will be available for making (ie the same used in the material investigation). Remind students to use their knowledge of the properties of each of the materials and then: 1. Draw a design. 2. List the materials needed. 3. Write a method. 4. Make their pizza oven. 5. Test their pizza oven. I give each student a choc chip biscuit with a chocolate bud on top to see if it will melt. 6. Evaluate their design.
  12. 12. SOLAR OVENS
  13. 13. COPYRIGHT I give permission for the following: Adaptations and sharing of this resources is for educational purpose only. I do not give permission for commercial use of this work. When sharing or adapting this work I ask that you give credit to the original creator, Joanne Villis at .These ideas may be used for non-commercial purposes only. Contact details: