Build a cool swimming pool for toys! This STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) project is great for hot summer days, or as an indoor rainy-day activity. Our swimming pool STEM activity gets kids actively engaged in critical thinking, predicting outcomes, and observing. Additionally, this project becomes a fun playtime activity for kids! Play is learning too!
Start by asking your kids what they’ll need to build a pool. We decided on a frame for the outside. Something strong enough to hold the force of the water pushing out around the structure of the pool. We’d need something to hold the structure together too. Lastly, we made a list of materials that might hold the water inside the pool.
We used supplies we already had around the house. There’s only one rule: The supplies cannot be factory made to hold food and water such as bowls, cups, or other plastic containers. Look through your kitchen cupboards and make predictions about the materials that would work for the outside structure of the pool. Then find supplies that will hold water inside the pool. I’ve listed some ideas below, but I’m sure your cabinets and drawers hold many more things that your little engineers can make into a pool!
- Popsicle Sticks
- Plastic Sandwich Bags
My kids had originally planned to make a round pool but when we decided on popsicle sticks and tape for the frame we realized a rectangle pool made more sense. We started by creating walls with tape and sticks.
Next, we added sticks to the bottom of the structure to hold the frame in the rectangle shape. In the structure of a building engineers add walls to the frame to prevent racking. Racking is the shifting of the frame due to force such as a heavy load, or even wind.
Predicting and Observing
We held our structure together with packing tape. My kids had the great idea of covering the bottom of the structure with tape and seeing if it could hold water. They predicted that the pool would hold water.
The water held for a little while and then we noticed it slowly seeping out between the pieces of tape. The tape when wet, did not hold the water in.
Next the kids decided to try lining the pool with plastic sandwich bags. Again, the water leaked out between the bags. This taught the kids that the pool liner needed to be well sealed at the seams, or one large piece of water-proof material.
We sat and brainstormed ideas together. The kids decided to try aluminum foil as the pool liner. After cutting a piece of foil large enough to fit the structure we molded it to the inside of the pool frame.
Our pool held water! Now it was time for play!
Upload your pool structure images to Instagram and give us a tag! We can’t wait to see which materials you used to build your swimming pool!