Have you ever thought about what early technology looked like? When we think of technology we tend to think of something involving a screen, or maybe a rocket. But 5000 years ago technology was a shovel, or in the case of this history lesson, an irrigation system. It takes work to design an irrigation system that will actually work, and that was the challenge I gave my kids. Can you design an irrigation system that will water all of your plants?
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Supplies to design an irrigation system
giant bucket, disposable aluminum pan (because you probably don’t want to use your actual dishes for this), dirt from your backyard, whatever supplies you want to let your kids use to design their irrigation system
I also required my kids design their irrigation system before we got out any mud
Prepping for the design
We started off designing our irrigation systems. My boys really thought this was stupid, so their design was rather…. minimal, but that’s okay because they were able to explain it all.
Then I did something really stupid. I had them go outside get the bucket of dirt and bring it inside to make into mud and start designing the irrigation system.
I have to say, this was pretty stupid, and about 2 minutes into the project, I realized how incredibly stupid this was and sent everyone outside with only mildly dirty hands at that point.
Seriously, what was I thinking?
Let’s make an irrigation system!
So I know adding headings is helpful, and it helps people break up the page and all that, but sometimes I have a hard time not feeling repetitive, so I throw in random exclamation points.
Yes, I’m weird. This is not a surprise.
I gave each of the kids a 9X13 pan and they filled them at least halfway with mud.
I just realized I need to do a bit of explaining.
If you don’t live in Texas, or you live somewhere where the dirt isn’t clay, you could just do this in your backyard or in a sandbox and let kids design an irrigation system like that. We basically have a very low amount of clay and then lots of rocks. It would not work to just do this in our backyard.
Back to getting filthy
Slowly but surely they built up their plans. While I gave them access to all of these different things, they pretty much just used their hands because it was more effective for them.
It was very wise to move outside, and I can’t believe I didn’t start out there.
They made gigantic messes and were very happy with this project. The Artist chose to do a different project, for some strange reason.
About 10 minutes later they both declared their projects were ready to be tested. So we filled some pitchers with water and started pouring the water to see how well their irrigation system worked.
And both of the boys’ irrigation systems would have watered all of the plants and that is where I figured out it would have worked so much better if we were able to design it in a larger area.
In a 9X13 pan, it is almost impossible not to be able to design an irrigation system that will water all of the plants because the water will easily be able to go into all of the nooks and crannies in a pan like that.
If we had a sandbox or had dirt we could actually dig through and had to design for a larger area, that would have made it more difficult and it would have taken more planning.
But, it did get home to the kids this is a difficult problem to solve when you have to figure out how to do it for a larger area.
I’d call that a lesson success.
Let’s look at some more ancient history ideas
- Great Wall of China lesson
- How to design a shaduf
- Ancient Sumeria booklist (I include the irrigation system in our Ancient Sumeria unit which is part of the bigger Ancient Mesopotamia Unit)
- Create a Sumerian artifact
- How to make a mummy