We did a recycled rain-gutter regatta at our middle school VBS last year. Many of the student said this was their favorite activity of the week. They made boats from materials destined for the trash or recycle bin. Then they raced them down a couple of rain-gutters filled with water.
So this would be an appropriate activity for a Vacation Bible School, camp, or youth ministry activity focused on science or environmentalism. Also it works well for any type of youth group activity with a nautical or pirate theme.
I asked them to bring it items from home to use to make the boats. When we were finished, we sorted through what was left and decided if it could be recycled or had to go in the trash. It was a good way to teach them the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Recycled Rain-Gutter Regatta
- Materials for the boats:
- Plastic water bottles
- Cereal boxes
- Empty chip bags
- Juice boxes
- Let them use their imaginations
- Tape (One for each team)
- Scissors (One for each team)
- Clay (in case some of the boats will need ballast to keep from flipping over)
- Two long rain-gutters (get from hardware store)
- Group the students into teams of two or three people each.
- Lay out the rain-gutters and fill them with water.
- Explain they are building boats. Show them the materials and explain that they are building boats to race in the rain-gutters. Don’t give them too many instructions. Let them discover how to do this on their own.
- Explain they can use wind power to propel the boats, but they may not touch them while racing.
- Give them some time to work on their boats.
- Let them practice in the rain-gutters and refine their designs.
- After a set amount of time (30 to 45 minutes), let them race their boats.