Using PVC and simple tools you can make a variety of attachments, then put them together to make wacky contraptions! Stay cool, invent a new game, and maybe even get the car washed (just don't tell them it's work).
Who can do this activity?
With any STEM activity it is important to use your discretion and always supervise your childrens' activities. We tested the force of pieces coming off during play and found that there was little to no force. But we do recommend that kids don't point an end at a person's face, especially if there are only a few holes as there will be some pressure.
The Build: If they know how to use tools, older kids might be able to help build the pieces with safety procedures and adult supervision.
The Play: Most ages will be able to play! Some strength is required to pull apart and put together pieces, but once assembled it is essentially a water sprinkler!
- Drill with a small drill bit (we used 1/8")
- Hacksaw or PVC Cutter
- Clamps and Vice - to hold pieces
A Hose and a spigot with water flow.
Read through this DIY for the rest of the materials you will need including: Hose connector, 1/2" PVC Pipe and 1/2" PVC Connectors.
Let's Get Started
For this activity you will be making a number of parts with varying holes in them and a variety of connectors to assemble the pieces with.
First, Connect to the Hose
You can ask your local hardware store expert for help. The ultimate goal is to connect to the hose on one side and to a 1/2" Slip PVC connector on the other.
It's also a good idea to add a valve so that you can turn the water on and off.
We chose these:
*Note that this valve was a 3/4", so we needed a 3/4" to 1/2" adapter between the valve and the 1/2" Slip x Thread Adapter.
The result should look like this:
Now we need Pipe and Connectors
Pipe: We will be using 1/2" PVC (schedule 40 if anyone asks). You can get it in many lengths up to 10'.
Connectors: You can get anything you want but it is important that everything is 1/2" PVC and Slip. You will not need to glue anything together. The slip joints will hold well enough for hose pressure and will allow kids to interchange the parts as they want to.
We suggest that at the very minimum you get a few of each of these:
90° Elbows, 45° Elbows, Couplings, Tees, Crosses, Traps and End Caps
End Caps are VERY important. Without them the PVC tubes won't fill with water and create pressure. So get a bunch!
Putting It Together
**Safety Note: Make sure to use mitre boxes, vices and clamps to hold your pieces in place while you cut and drill. And wear safety gloves and glasses where appropriate.
Cut the pipe to various lengths. No need to be precise here, make short pieces, long pieces, whatever you want!
You can use a Mitre Box and Hacksaw or a PVC Cutter to cut the pieces. If you use the hacksaw you may want to sand the edges and clean the excess.
Now drill some holes using a small drill bit - We used 1/8". You can drill along the length of some pipes and into the end of some end caps. Or really, wherever you want!
That's it! Now you and your kids can assemble the pieces in different configurations and make all kinds of cool inventions! A tip: The End Caps are hard to take off once they are on. Consider attaching the end caps to a pipe and using it as one piece.