South Orangetown Central School District

Fifth graders in Cottage Lane Elementary School teachers Jessica Sky and Megan Osso’s class are learning how to make rainwater collection systems with help from CLE Technology teacher Jacob Tanenbaum and K-8 Science Instructional Coach Sam Levine.

To begin the lesson, Tanenbaum asked students to research some of the reservoirs that can be found locally including the Hillburn, Lake DeForest and Grassy Sprain Reservoirs. Then, students had to research how many inches of rain our area gets each year as well as how much we get during months when more rain is expected including March and April. 

Students split into groups and were tasked with making rainwater collection systems to help water their plants in the CLE garden using various materials such as small and large plastic cups, aluminum pans, straws, paper plates and tape. Tanenbaum and Levine broke down the cost of each of the materials and how each group must create their collection system using a budget of $100. Each group began to brainstorm ideas to create an efficient rainwater collection system that will hold water without leaking and will drip slowly into the soil to avoid over saturating the plants. Students drew models of their rainwater collection systems and tallied up the cost of the materials they planned to use to ensure they stayed within their budget. Tanenbaum explained to the class, “When you’re picking which materials to use, think about the properties of your materials. If you think back to second grade, you learned how to classify and identify materials based on their properties. For this project, you will most likely want to use materials that are flexible and waterproof.”

After working in their groups, Tanenbaum had students come together to discuss strategies that worked for them and engineering challenges they may have faced after their first day of building. One group said, “I think everything went well when we were combining our ideas to help create our final design and we were all on the same page.” Once students finish their designs, they will test them to see how effective their designs are and if they need to make any changes. 

CLE fifth graders assembling rain collection system