One of my favorite memories with Travis is a trip we took to an old saw mill when he was in preschool. I reminded him of the moment when his latest kit from Kiwi CoKiwi CoKiwi Coarrived, all about the Water Wheel! There was great STEM learning here about the power of water, all of which led to great play.
First up: the Water Wheel and Boat. To make the wheel involved slotting plastic paddles into the circular side pieces and holding it all in place with elastics. More and more with each crate, I sit back and let Travis handle the dexterity of all this.
We then inserted the frame pieces into a foam base and again held it all together with elastics. A funnel goes on top, and can slide along on a foam donut.
To make the “boat” simply involved inserting three corks into a foam frame, a good refresher on buoyancy and how cork is a material that floats.
We inflated the provided water basin and placed the boat and water wheel inside.
As Travis poured water into the funnel, the rope tugs the boat a little closer to the wheel each time. It required a little trial and error, but eventually our boat was taut against the wheel.
We took our Water Wheel outside for a few additional experiments. First, we tested what would happen if the boat dangled over an edge, rather than floating in water. Even against the power of gravity, the boat rose upward!
Then Travis tested filling the funnel with sand instead of water; I think ideally this would have worked, but he poured the sand in so fast that the funnel clogged, and we didn’t have great results.
His Explore magazine also suggested testing the boat out in soapy water, though I’m unclear why. Was the soap supposed to hinder or help? In our results, it worked better, the fastest wind-up yet. Then we untied the boat and just had fun playing with the wheel as a water toy. Travis could test the power of the current that the wheel generates by floating other bath toys around it.
The final project in this crate was Splash Art. Travis used the provided penguin background for his first try. Add a generous squirt of the provided blue paint, then use the provided straw to blow.
He was nervous at first that he would inhale the paint, so we practiced blowing air against our palms.
Now he was brave enough, and I was so proud of him! There’s enough extra paper to make a few designs of your child’s own, and Travis loved adding lots of blue paint to these and blowing all over the surface.
Have fun varying your method, including blowing hard or soft, or varying the angle of the straw. Just be careful: this one is messy!
Before wrapping up, we did a quick experiment to test the power of a vortex. First, fill an empty 2 litre bottle with water and pour it out normally over a bucket. Set a timer and see how long it takes! Ours emptied in 16 seconds.
Refill it, but this time place your hand over the opening, turn the bottle upside down, and begin spinning in a circular motion; you’re creating a vortex. When you remove your hand, the water will whoosh out! I’d estimate it emptied in half the time.
To make this more visible, first we added red food coloring, and then glitter. Travis was in charge of the camera, so unfortunately the pictures didn’t come out great!
We ended the fun with two reads about water: Hi, Water by Antoinette Portis and National Geographic Kids’ Water.