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Explore the water cycle by making a solar still

Making a solar still is a great summer activity to help learners understand the science behind the water cycle. You can harness the power of sunlight to purify water using some easy to find items and kitchen ingredients.   

You can also use the activity as part of further investigation regarding access to fresh water. This is not only a problem that millions of people face here on earth, but it is also one of the challenges for completing long space missions. How might the ideas in this activity help?

Check out the video (2:30 mins )

For this activity you will need: 

  • A variety of large bowls and containers.
  • Some clingfilm.
  • Some smaller jugs or jars to collect the distilled water. 
  • Coins, small stones or washers to weigh down the clingfilm. 

To make some ‘ dirty’ water you will need: 

  • Assorted safe and edible kitchen ingredients – stock cubes, salt, sugar, coffee, tea leaves, spices, fruit juices, etc.  
  • Water 

NOTE: Students should not drink the ‘dirty’ water or the freshwater that they make in their stills. 

Taking things further: 

If you have a large container, such as a plastic fish tank, students can create model mountains inside from clay or plasticine. Ice cubes placed on the clingfilm above the mountains will condense the moisture to demonstrate rain forming rivers and the water flowing back to the sea. A lamp shining on the water will act as the sun.   

If you enjoy this activity, you can make a poster or diagram explaining the process and perhaps share it with us here at Teachers’ Corner. 

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At Folens, we believe that educators sharing insights and experiences with each other is crucial to improving education for all. Teachers’ Corner is edited by teachers, with teachers and for teachers.

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