National Teacher Enhancement Project

Middle School Home Energy Audit


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How to Build a Pizza Box Solar Oven

Follow the steps below to compete in a contest to obtain the greatest increase in temperature using a solar oven. You will submit your results and compete with other schools...Good Luck!


1 pizza box from local delivery store (Little Caesars, Domino's, Pizza Hut, etc.), newspapers, tape, scissors, black construction paper, clear plastic wrap, aluminum foil


  1. Make sure the cardboard is folded into its box shape.
  2. Carefully cut out 3 sides of an 8 1/2" by 11" square in the lid of the box.
  3. Gently fold the flap back along the uncut edge to form a crease.
  4. Wrap the underside (inside) face of this flap with aluminum foil. Tape it so that the foil is held firmly but so that there's not too much tape showing on the foil side of the flap.
  5. Open the box and place a piece of black construction paper so it fits the bottom of the box. Tape it by the edges.
  6. Roll up some newspaper and fit it around the inside edges of the box. This is insulation. (Materials used to slow the transfer of heat and make things more energy efficient. Do not confuse with insOlation.) It should be about 1-11/2" thick. Use tape or other materials you can think of to hold the newspaper in place.
  7. Cut plastic wrap an inch larger than the lid opening on the box top. Tape it to the underside of the lid opening. Add another piece of plastic wrap to the top of the lid opening. This creates a layer of air as insulation that keep sheet in the box. BE SURE THE PLASTIC WRAP IS TIGHT.
  8. YOU ARE ALMOST DONE! The oven needs to sit at an angle facing the sun directly, so you'll need to make a prop. Also, the flap of the box top needs to be propped open-a dowel, pencil or ruler work great. This way you can change the amount of sunlight striking the oven window.

Contest Rules:

  1. Obtain a 5 inch aluminum pie plate.
  2. Fill pie plate with 150 ml of water at room temperature and place inside your solar oven.
  3. Place your solar oven in the most optimum location outside. Obtain an initial starting temperature of the water.
  4. Check the temperature of the water every 10 minutes for 40 minutes and record your results (subtract the starting temperature so that you are recording only the increase in temperature).

Student Name:Date:

School Name:Longitude:Latitude:

City and State:Country:

Temperature Readings


Temperature (in degrees Celsius)

Temperature Change (in degrees Celsius)
0 minutes


10 minutes


20 minutes


30 minutes


40 minutes


Total Temperature Change:

Use the button to your results to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Created for the NTEP II Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.


Authors: Sue Emmons, Powell Middle School, Littleton, CO; Kevin Lindauer, John F. Kennedy High School, Denver, CO; Linda Lung, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO; John Sepich, Scott Carpenter Middle School, Westminster, CO; ; Janet Stellema, Monarch K-8, Louisville, CO.
Created: September 9, 1998 - Updated: October 2, 2001.