That's the idea behind the Solar Hotdog Cooker from Dad's Adventure. It's a parabolic cooker with lots of details that encourage parents and those who work with toddlers and little kids to share science concepts.
It comes as a kit which is built by an adult (from video instructions) while the child watches and I'm sure helps out where they can.
The Solar Hotdog Cooker is a great idea as it taps into things little kids love - being outside, things that do stuff and eating hotdogs.
The Solar Hotdog Cooker is running a Kickstarter campaign to complete the product and get it in the hands of its first customers.
Over this summer my kids have cooked damper bread over a camp fire in a prehistoric reenactments and helped make a fire to cook marshmallows and hot chocolate over in a Bushcraft activity. They would definitely enjoy the Solar Hotdog cooker although they are older than toddlers now. You can extend the science to bigger kids too though.
We've seen some cool science and engineering kits like the BigShot camera that are aimed at older kids but it's nice to see something that's aimed at younger kids.
The color red is used on the handle to warn kids about the danger of the high temperatures.
Using the sun to cook food is pretty amazing, but the Solar Hotdog Cooker adds lots of extra science. There are models that have a solar-powered rotisserie to turn the skewer - you can easily see the motor and gears that operate this mechanism. Then there's a sun tracker base that allows the unit to rotate to catch the best rays.
There are smaller details built in to enable further investigation and explanation including a bubble level, compass and protractor. The idea is for kids to learn in a hands-on way and set the foundations for an interest in science as they get older.
"Explore! Fail! Discover! Do it again"Oh and the T-shirts are very cool. Often Kickstarter T-shirts are so specific to the product being developed that I'm not sure who would wear them. But the Solar Hotdog cooker has a dark green T-shirt with a design that includes the logo "Explore! Fail! Discover! Do it again" which is an excellent message for to share with kids (the shirts only seem to be available in adult sizes.)
You can choose from a range of different rewards for the project from a basic cardboard version to a deluxe version made from foam core and with all the bells and whistles.
The product is planned to start shipping in October 2013.
Pledge: Solar Hotdog Cooker on Kickstarter