Waterproof that Roof!

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In this activity, learners explore how engineers have improved roofing designs and materials in order to protect the contents of buildings. Learners explore the hydrophobic effect, and learn about nanotechnology. Then, they work in teams to design a roof structure both in terms of shape and materials to protect a box and its contents from a simulated rainstorm. Teams build, test, and evaluate their designs and those of other teams.

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
  • Large bin or sink for testing roofs, or access to outdoor area for testing
  • Water
  • Measuring cup (for "rain" water and measuring any water that goes through the roof into the small container "house")
  • Plastic storage container or planter insert (at least 10 x 25 cm)
  • Measuring cup
  • Leaves
  • Grass
  • Cotton balls
  • Paper towels
  • String
  • Paper clips
  • Cardboard
  • Tape
  • Newspaper
  • Wooden dowels
  • Branches
  • Shells
  • Nuts
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Non-water proof fabric
  • Wax
  • Oil
  • Foil pieces
  • Plastic pieces


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Architectural Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
    • Technology
      • Construction
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
      • Technology and History
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Model Building
  • Outdoor Activity


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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