Empowering Student Innovation for a Clean Energy Future

Division: M (6-8)
School: Pine Crest School Team Size: 4

Toasty Roasty

Pine Crest G7 Engineering

Team Members:

  • Sophie L. (7th)
  • Jacob Y. (7th)
  • Jocelyn M. (7th)
  • James S. (7th)

Images of our Solar Oven:

Ms. Spitalnick and Mr. Swanson, both teachers at our school, gave great assistance to our team. Specifically, they helped us cut the glass for the Solar Oven and advised us on materials to use in making our design. We designed the oven, cut the cardboard and insulation, installed and painted the aluminum foil ourselves.

The solar oven was inspired by a toaster oven/air fryer except it has a glass plate on the. The cooker has acrylic wings to reflect even more light into the oven so it can get even hotter.

Initial Designs:

Final Design Parts List:

  • Styrofoam 
  • Leftover cardboard 
  • Acrylic 
  • Leftover laser cutter Wood 
  • Tape 
  • Tinfoil 
  • Black heat proof spray paint
  • Glass
  • Wood
  • Glue
  • Hinges 
  • Handles 


In our initial test, the highest temperature that our solar cooker has reached is 114˚F. We tested in the mid-afternoon, and It was partly cloudy.

As a result of our test, we knew that we needed to improve the oven design, so we added a reflective acrylic panel to the top which increased the amount of sunlight going into the oven (see the picture below showing the panel when we cooked). Our final temperature as shown in the second picture was 172˚F. We got this temperature while cooking between 9:50 am – 11:10 am with perfectly clear skies.

Here is James testing our cooker.
Here is the final temperature we got it to on draft one.

Help received from non-team members:

Our team was so grateful to have received some help from our teachers Ms. Spitalnick and Mr. Swanson. Mr. Swanson helped us cut our glass and print our final box around our insulation.

Cooking / Recipes

We chose along with the team of 8th grade students working on a solar cooker in our Engineering Team to cook Salmon as our test dish. We wanted to make something simple but flavorful, that showed off how well the cooker could cook the dish. We were all really surprised to find out how delicious it was and wished we had cooked more!

Honey-Soy Salmon


  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce (or gluten-free soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 clove garlic (smashed)
  • Sesame seeds


  1. Mix together the honey and soy sauce.
  2. Place the salmon in a small aluminum pan and cover with the sauce mixture. Be sure to coat all of the salmon.
  3. Place the slices of lemon over the salmon.
  4. Put in the solar oven and allow to cook until the middle of the salmon reaches around 140˚F for medium-well.
  5. Take the salmon out of the oven, and be sure to pour the sauce over it before eating



  • Noodles  
  • Soy sauce
  • Sesame seeds

Vegetables *** Florida Grown (not a high temperature)


  • Squash 
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini 
  • Peppers 

Caesar Salad


  • Romaine lettuce
  • Croutons 
  • Cheese 
  • Dressing (caesar)


  1. Mix together the ingredients in a bowl
  2. top with dressing

Chocolate Covered Strawberries *** Florida Grown


  • White chocolate chips
  • Milk chocolate chips
  • Strawberries



  • cup salted butter *softened
  • 1 cup white (granulated) sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

The idea for our cooker

The solar oven was inspired by a toaster oven/air fryer except it has a glass plate on the top. The cooker has acrylic wings to reflect even more light so it can get even hotter.

Team Design Video

Q & A:

Q: Has your team competed in the Solar Cook-Off before?
A: Yes, our team placed first place in the online competition.

Q: Has your school previously competed in any other solar cooking event?
A: Yes, Pine Crest School has competed in the solar cook off before

Q: What are some past Cook-Off awards won by the school?
A: Our school place first place in the online competition for 7th grade and second place in 8th grade.

Q: What are some interesting fact(s) about your team, your recipe, or your school?
A: Our team has worked very well together although sometimes we have our challenges. When we made the first version of our oven it did not heat up as high as we would have liked and it was not the size we wanted it. When we were building the new version, we made it bigger, improved the colors, and the materials. Our recipe was a challenge to come up with, but we each selected one thing we wanted in the meal and came up with our final 3 part course. We work hard and can’t wait to improve even more as a team during this competition!

List of internet sites used in the planning process 

4 thoughts on “Toasty Roasty

  • April 29, 2022 at 10:40 am

    Side-door design for easy access to check the temperature and minimize escaping heat is a great feature! Love your Florida-grown recipes!

  • April 29, 2022 at 7:04 am

    Your inspiring design and meticulous attention to detail on your web page, blew me away! Well done! You cooker design is based on solid science and that is evidenced in how well it worked. Tasty cuisine also. Nice job!

  • April 28, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    I’m impressed with the high temperature you achieved! Nice details on your design work and video. I like your choice of food to match the capabilities of the oven.

  • April 27, 2022 at 12:03 pm

    Love that your fruits and veggies were Florida grown. This is very in-depth. Great job!


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