The purpose of Allie’s second grade science fair was to test different flood control methods and determine which one was most effective. As you know, last year Hurricane Harvey caused some areas in Texas to get 50+ inches of rain fall within 3 days. We have family and friends who are still rebuilding their homes.
The picture on the left is Hurricane Harvey before making landfall and the picture on the right is a flooded parking lot and major frontage road in Houston (photo cred K. Twardowski).
This was a great project to learn about topography using a play dough. I made the mistake of making a late night Target run to buy loads of green play dough when it dawned on me that I could just make the stuff for a fraction of the cost. Allie had a great idea to use monopoly houses and of course she added a “Disney castle” near the mountain.
I also loved that we got the entire family involved and excited about it. The big kids and I made the play dough, Dad helped with the topography and building the model, and little sister watched it all adding her own commentary.
Allie’s model includes a river that leads to a bay, a flood plain, several levels of land, a hill, and a mountain. The Tupperware bowl represents the different flood control scenarios we tested. The bowl with a small hole models a retention pond. The bowl with a bigger hole is models a parking lot. The bowl with a sponge inside models a wetland.
Allie’s hypothesis was that the wetland was going to be more effective flood control method (and how living on the mountain would be the best idea). So we discussed how we all wanted to live in a Disney castle or at the top of a mountain to avoid floods but that was impractical and expensive.
We were all surprised at the results (you can tell my surprise at moment 0:33 when I thought the wetlands would save the day.) So we built up our flood plain and tested it again.
In the end, we all learned a few things about flood control, namely that using several methods together is more effective. I hope this inspires you with your next science fair and your future scientists and engineers!
This project was adapted from a video called “Wetland Flood Scenario”.