How to make a waterfall for a science fair project

Updated February 21, 2017

Waterfalls help tell the story of the geography of a place. The physics of waterfalls allows us to do things like harness the energy of the water to create electricity. Whether you are doing a science fair project about erosion and geography or about hydroelectric energy, a basic miniature waterfall is easy to build and can be customised to suit your specific scientific investigation.

Find a plastic container to use as the base of the waterfall. This will serve as your water reservoir. A small plastic garden pond, a plastic trough or a bus tray can all be used.

Create a base for the waterfall. Cut piece of 3/4-inch plywood to the needed size. The size should fit the reservoir as well as the amount of landscape you want around the reservoir. Cut another piece of plywood the exact same size. Laminate them together with wood glue and wood screws to create a solid base. Attach caster wheels underneath for easy mobility if your waterfall will be large, heavy and kept at ground level during the fair.

Place a mini water pump in the reservoir. Attach the water pump tubing to the nipple on the pump.

Build up the landscape on the plywood around the reservoir. One side needs to be higher than the other for water runoff. The landscape can be built with all kinds of materials. You can use large rocks cemented together with mortar. For temporary projects, even wet clay can be used to hold rocks together. Clay can also be used to build up the land itself. Wet clay will dry out and become brittle and easily eroded, which might be great for your project. If you have the resources, fired clay can also be used and will be permanent. Try compacting soil into the landscape and planting grass, moss or other plants. Optionally, a chicken wire armature for the landscape can also be used, with plaster or clay compacted onto the wire.

Feed the tubing up through the materials as you work. Use scissors to cut off the excess tube once you get to the top and have reached the point where you want the water to fall from.

Fill the reservoir about two-thirds full with water.

Plug in and turn on the pump to start your waterfall.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic reservoir
  • Mini water pump
  • Water pump tubing
  • 3/4-inch plywood
  • Saw
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • Caster wheels (optional)
  • Materials for landscape
  • Scissors
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About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.