June 16, 2018 by Cyndi Hamann
Program Title: Water Slide Challenge
Target Age Range: Teens, Grades 6 & Up
Program Length: 60 minutes
Brief Description: Create epic waterslides filled with loops, twists and turns. The catch? Your passengers need to ride safely from start to finish! Are you up to the challenge?
Straws or Beads
Large Storage bins or bowls
This is a great program to clean out left over supplies. As long as you have the top supplies, you can supplement with nearly anything. I also gave the teens wax paper sheets.
If you are using straws instead of beads, cut several straws up to bead-sized pieces. Fill several (at least 1 per teen if you can refill during the program, 3 per teen if you can’t) plastic cups with water.
- We talked a bit about water slides, what makes them fun, how they work. We also talked a bit about water terraces in Asian farming and their value. The teens were all pretty familiar with both concepts so I let them explain. I did have some photos for the teens to look at.
- I gave the teens their mission: Create a water slide with 3 landings that will allow water to carry the beads (or cut up straws).
- Before the program I placed all the supplies on a table. After the teens got “their mission” I let them take whatever supplies they wanted to start building.
- When teens were ready, I had them bring their water slides to a different table and place it in a large storage bin. We did all of the testing with water in a bin to eliminate water spills.
This was pretty easy program to run. Once the teens understood the concept and the goal, I let them largely self-direct. When a teen would successfully complete the challenge of carrying beads down the water slide with 3 landings, I’d challenge them to do more landings, carry more beads, etc. Often after seeing the test, they would want to try again, or fix something they didn’t think worked quite right.
I based this program on the Fluor Water Challenge. This is a great starting point to get an idea of how it works and the science behind the challenge. I took what they had created and modified to better fit my teens, time, and budget. I used cut up straws, instead of wooden beads, and eliminated the point system.
What we would do differently:
Ensuring that the teens did all their testing in storage containers was the key to success on this one. I did let my teens have the option of adding their own beads and pouring the water, but that might be tricky depending on your group. Sixty minutes was a good time frame for teens with this challenge. They were all able to finish, but not get bored. They probably could have kept going.
Adaption for older/younger audience:
I think this would adapt well for younger audiences. You likely wouldn’t need to change very much, maybe decrease the beads or landings to start and encourage group work. You would also want to lay out much clearer goals and directives. Timing-wise 90 minutes might be a good fit for tweens or younger kids.