Transparent Water Pump
This Transparent Water Pump, based on the design of a traditional manual water pump, helps a child to identify the strength of good, old-fashioned hand power! In our very modern world, where even young children are completely accustomed to extraordinary technological tools, it's always nice to return to experiences like this that are 'quaint' but still show the marvels of science and nature!
The Water Pump is shown here with our Metal Bucket (Spotty) in green.
The Pump works as follows;
The child places the base of the pump into a vessel or pool of water. The hook on the side of the pump can be used to help secure it in place (such as hooking it on the side of a bucket as shown in our illustration). The child then manually works the force rod like a lever - working it up and down repeatedly. This pushes the piston rod, with a plunger on the end, up and down to draw the water up and out through the outlet. The Pump is clear so the child can actually track the progress of the water as it climbs up the pipe and out through the spout. It takes quite a few pumps to get the water flowing initially, as it rises and rises up the pipe towards the outlet, so it is a great way of promoting the child to engage in persistent repetition.
As the child practices with the pump he or she will discover that it works more effectively when a smooth pace is achieved. This make the pump a fantastic gross-motor exercise at it requires strength but also precision to make it work to the best of its ability!
A 2 or 3 year old child might just focus on pumping the handle to try to get a little bit of water to come out of the spout - while a 4 or 5 year old child will focus on creating a smooth, consistent and lasting flow (and older children can enjoy putting all this refinement into more purposeful work, such as the water-collection outlined below).
At my own Montessori Pre-school we utilise the Water Pump to support our water-conservation effort. After a rainfall the children often find pools or puddles of water around the garden - on the end of the slippery dip, in the crevices between our moss rocks and other sneaky spots! The Water Pump allows the children to gather this water to save for later, water our indoor plants or for use in sand play.
The Water Pump is also great just for general sensory explorations with water. It can be presented within a 'water play' experience for children along with other tools that collect and project water (such as buckets, pipettes and basters).
So we know it's fun, but what about the science behind this process - how does the pump actually work?
Each time the force rod is raised it pulls up the piston and plunger. As this happens a force is created which starts to draw the water up the tube. The 'valve' at the bottom of the pipe (in this case a marble) is there to prevent the water from immediately flowing back out when the movement ceases. If there was no valve then gravity would just take over and the water would spill out. Each time the plunger lifts it draws up a little more water, which is then blocked by the valve, in time for the next lift of the force rod to pull more water up again.
For more detailed information about manual water pumps you can visit here, here or here. This Transparent Water Pump could be the foundation for a fantastic research project for a primary school child who is interested in the science - and human history - of these manual marvels!