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Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools

Building a Model Springbox

Clean Water and Quality of Life - Science Extension

Africa, Cameroon
Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8

Inspired by the slide show "Water Source Protection," featuring Peace Corps Volunteer Lauren Fry, students will take the role of environmental engineers. They will use simple materials to construct small-scale springboxes and make recommendations for improving their functionality.


  • Students will build a model springbox, using it to describe and demonstrate its function
  • Students will make adjustments to working models to improve their function  


  •  Markers
  • Plastic containers with lids; 3 per 2-4 students
  • Masking tape
  • Rocks or gravel; 1 cup per 2-4 students
  • Aluminum pans; 1 per 2-4 students
  • Drinking straws
  • Modeling clay
  • Pitcher or bottle of water 


  1.  Begin by viewing Lauren Fry's slide show Water Source Protection and discussing central concepts using the accompanying lesson plan.
  2. Explain that students will work in groups to build and test their own model springboxes. Review the materials and show the Springbox Model Construction Plan (link above) they will follow.
  3. Then provide time for students to work with their materials to build a springbox according to the construction plan, giving assistance as needed.
  4. Once students have completed construction, help them test their springboxes. Using a pitcher of water, fill the groundwater seepage (aluminum pan) with water, and observe how water travels through the structure. If needed, allow students to adapt their springboxes to function more effectively.
  5. As a large group, discuss:
    • What were some of the challenges you faced?
    • How do you think these compare to the challenges of building a real springbox?
    • What recommendations would you make to environmental engineers interested in learning how to build a springbox? 

Frameworks & Standards

 Enduring Understandings
  • In practice, ideas may not play out precisely as we plan; we must adjust to the conditions and unexpected circumstances of the real world.
  • Innovative thinking can us solve small-scale and large-scale problems.
Essential Questions
  • How does the process of performing tests and making adaptations help us to make improvements?
  • How can engineering impact people's lives?

National Science Education Standards

  • Content Standard E: Science and Technology
    • Abilities of technological design
  • Content Standard F: Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    • Science and technology in local challenges

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts

  • Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects
    • Key Ideas and Details: Follow a multistep procedure
    • Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Integrate technical information expressed visually and in words 
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