Rain Machine (Solar Still)

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In this activity, learners work in groups to build simple solar stills filled with salt water. After the stills are complete, learners observe what happens when they place the stills in the sun. Learners taste the water they collect and discuss what has happened in their stills.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
1 cent - $1 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • bowl
  • plastic cup, 1 inch shorter than sides of bowl or cut to size
  • clear plastic food wrap
  • tape or rubber band large enough to go around bowl
  • small rock or weight
  • salty water


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Earth Structure
      • Oceans and Water
    • Solar System
      • The Sun
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
    • Technology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
      • Liquids
      • Gases
      • Changes of Phase
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
      • Formulating Explanations
      • Communicating Results

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment
  • Outdoor Activity


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • taste
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Schleith, Susan ; Hall, Penny


  • All rights reserved, Florida Solar Energy Center,