Water Tower Challenge

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In this activity, learners explore how engineers work to solve the challenges of a society, such as delivering safe drinking water. Learners work in teams to devise a system using everyday materials that can deliver water in a controlled manner to a paper cup that is about 36 inches or 90 cm away. Learners sketch their plans, build their system, test it, and reflect on the challenge.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Water source, bucket, or sink area
  • Paper cups
  • Straws
  • Paper towels
  • Rubber bands
  • Paper clips
  • Tape
  • Balloons
  • Soda bottle
  • Glue
  • String
  • Foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Hose or tubes
  • Siphon materials
  • Other items as needed


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Agricultural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Environmental Engineering
    • Technology
      • Agriculture and Biotechnology
      • Transportation
      • Manufacturing
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Nature and Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • 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



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