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Waterproof that Roof

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(Full teacher resource documents are included in the PDF)

Lesson Focus
Lesson focuses on how structural engineers have improved the designs of building -- specifically roofing -- over the years to improve the quality of homes and life. Teams of students work together using simple materials to design a roof that will keep the contents of a box dry during a water test. Students determine both the shape of the roof and materials used for construction, test their designs, and present their findings to the class.

Lesson Synopsis
The "Waterproof that Roof" activity explores how engineers have improved roofing designs and materials in order to protect the contents of buildings. Students explore the hydrophobic effect, and learn about nanotechnology. Then, they work in teams to design a roof structure both in terms of shape and materials to protect a box and its contents from a simulated rainstorm. Teams build, test, and evaluate their designs and those of other student teams.

Age Levels:   8-18


  • Learn about nanotechnology.
  • Learn about structural engineering.
  • Learn about materials engineering.
  • Learn how engineering can help solve society's challenges.
  • Learn about teamwork and problem solving.

Anticipated Learner Outcomes
As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:

  • nanotechnology
  • structural engineering
  • water protection strategies
  • engineering design
  • teamwork

Lesson Activities
Students learn about structural and materials engineering and work in teams to design, build, and test a roofing system that will keep the contents of a box dry during a classroom "rainstorm."


  • Teacher Resource Documents (attached)
  • Student Resource Sheet (attached)
  • Student Worksheets (attached)

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks
Curriculum alignment sheet is included in the