We have been in a severe drought in California and have tried explaining the situation to our kids. They have had many valid questions, including, “why can’t we use water from the ocean?” When we have explained that other states are having floods, they asked why they cannot send the water our way (solving both problems). In reference to the first question, I talked to them about desalination and the complicated process involved in removing salt from that much sea water and the potential harm to wildlife. We made a miniature solar still to see if we could take the salt out of water on a very small scale.
Make a Solar Still:
You will need:
- Glass container
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- 1 Cup of warm water
- Second smaller glass container shorter than the edge of the first container when it sits inside
- One or two rocks or several glass beads (We used 7).
- Plastic Wrap that will secure tightly around the containers
Have the children pour the water into the larger container. Then, have them add the salt and stir. Have a child place the smaller container inside the larger container in the center. Then, (adult job) tightly wrap the containers in plastic wrap. The wrap should not be touching the smaller container. Add the rocks or glass beads to the center of the container. Let it sit for two hours to several hours in the sun. The longer it sits, the more water will collect in the smaller container. Remove the plastic wrap. Have the children taste the water in both containers and compare the differences. Our water that collected did not taste salty whereas the water in the large container was very salty. It was funny to see their expressions change as they tasted the two kinds of water.
For further education, show the machine for desalination pictured in this article and talk about the way that sea creatures can be trapped in the process. Our kids were fascinated by the machine that takes ocean water and turns it into drinking water (but they did not think it was a good idea to harm sea life).
MORE Water Activities from the #PlayfulPreschool Team:
Alphabet Activities: Washing the Letter Dishes by Growing Book by Book
Alphabet Hunt in a Water Sprinkler by Mom Inspired Life
Turn Your Water Bottles into Musical Instruments by Life Over C’s
Pie Tin Boats – an engineering challenge for the whole family by Rainy Day Mum
Water Displacement Experiment by Fun-A-Day
Gross Motor Water Play and Learning by Tiny Tots Adventures
Drip, Drip, Drop | Ourdoor Water Game for Kids by The Educators’ Spin On It