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Solar Cook-Off Challange

Student Solar Cook-Off Challange

2016 Solar Teams


Annual Solar Cook-Off Challenge

Each year the MDAQMD and its environmental education partner, the Mojave Environmental Education Consortium (MEEC), hosts a Solar Cook-Off Competition for students in grades 4-12, who, working together as a team design and construct a working solar cooker, as well as develop original recipes for their cookers.

Students must construct the cooker following specified construction guidelines for size and weight. Food cannot be pre-cooked at home but must be assembled on the site once the start time begins. This eliminates any “reheating” vs actual cooking time. Teams are required to prepare three servings of each dish they have prepared for the Recipe Judges. Teams will be disqualified if their recipes do not meet Food & Safety Requirements for minimum temperature at judging time.

The Competition is divided into two judging categories; Cooker Design and Recipe. Within each category, there are three grade divisions; 4-6; 7-9; and 10-12. A first, second, and third place winner is selected in each grade division and category.


The MDAQMD serves as the lead agency for MEEC, whose services are made possible through the generous support of more than 40 local businesses and organizations. MEEC is a public-private nonprofit organization which links High Desert educators with quality, standards-based environmental education resources, free of charge. MEEC hosts 15-17 free Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) based environmental education educator workshops per year, and renewable energy sources has been a very popular topic that educators request to learn more about and share with their students, and the idea of the Solar Cook-Off evolved from one of these workshop discussions.

Daisy Gibson Cooker

“The MDAQMD and MEEC'S Solar Cook-Off is by far one of the best competitions out there for teachers looking to incorporate 21st Century learning skills towards engineering and environmental science. There is no other competition where students get to learn about solar energy through the construction of their own solar oven and design their own award winning recipes to cook it. Thank you MDAQMD & MEEC for such a wonderful time and experience for our students,” stated John Kell, Daisy Gibson team advisor.

The community is encouraged to attend the event and speak with the students and solar industry representatives/mentors to learn more about the program and how they can benefit from using solar to reduce air pollution, as well as lower their utility bills. As the solar energy capitol of the United States, the Mojave Desert’s residents benefit greatly from the annual Solar Cook-Off, learning first hand that using a solar cooker provides an outdoor activity for the entire family that does not require any utility resource, and that there is actually more energy in the sunlight that falls upon a house than the total energy that a whole house uses over the course of a day. This natural no-cost-energy cooking approach provides for a more comfortable kitchen environment and significantly lowers home energy costs.

To our knowledge, this is the only event of its kind anywhere in Southern California.

Click on the year to view or download a copy of the 2014, 2015, or 2016 Winning Solar Cook-Off Recipe Book.

Mark your calendar for next year's event, Saturday, May 13, 2017, at Victor Valley Museum in Apple Valley.

For more information about the event, go to:

Last updated: 8/5/2016 1:25:16 PM