Solar cooking as a learning project in a physics course

Notes for solar cooking and especially for learning with solar cookers.
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shawn
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Solar cooking as a learning project in a physics course

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Materials
What do we need to learn using solar cookers? Materials for the cookers, cooking vessels, meters, safety equipment:
  • Reflective material: Mirrors, aluminized mylar, aluminum foil, reflective tape, polished metal...
  • Shaped reflector panels, if the reflective material doesn't already have structure/shape: Cardboard, foam core, coroplast, plywood, satellite dish...
  • Greenhouse: Cooking bag, food tray liner, glass dome, cake lid, large glass jar, aquarium, evacuated double-walled tube; glass door if oven style...
  • Oven structure, if oven style: Inner surfaces must withstand heat without tainting food; at least one side clear glass or plastic, at most five opaque sides of metal, wood, glass...
  • Insulation, if oven style: Cork, mineral wool or fiberglass (encapsulate!), crumpled papers, natural fibers/cloth...
  • Pot or tray, tiffin, jar, for holding food. Could be clear if food is dark.
  • Trivet, stand, cake tray, chafing dish...
  • Measuring temperature: Oven thermometer, meat probe, thermocouple, thermistor, wax-melting-indicator, thermal camera...
  • Sunglasses.
  • Measuring load: Graduated cylinder, measuring cup, scale...
  • Clips to hold panels in shape, or to hold greenhouse bag closed.
  • Glue or clear packing tape to adhere reflective material to panels.
  • Scissors, box cutter...
  • Safety: Oven mitt, dish towel, large vessel of water...
Concepts
  • Extended list of concepts we can learn with solar cookers:
  • Radiation vs convection.
  • Insulation.
  • Concentration of radiation.
  • Meteorology.
  • Seasons and Sun’s path.
  • Greenhouse effect.
  • Rates.
  • Specific heat capacity.
  • Power, energy, and temperature.
  • Visible radiation and infrared radiation.
  • Selective materials.
  • Pasteurizing food and water; canning.
  • Dehydrating food.
  • Iterative design.
  • Strength of materials and structure.
  • Recycling and re-use.
  • Cooking!
Activities
  • Measure the load.
  • Measure the intensity of sunlight, illuminance.
  • Measure the temperature over time.
  • Analyze the power in and the power out.
  • Pasteurize water.
  • Cook.
  • Increase the power in.
  • Decrease the power out.
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