We’ve created an activity guide on making a fun, recycled Super-Soaker to get you through the heat this summer! This project was inspired by Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson's Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions, written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate. This book is full of engaging images as we journey with Lonnie from learning how to be resourceful in a big family, to joining NASA and sending his inventions to space, and then back to Earth where every kid dreamed of getting their hands on his Super Soaker!
We added this book to the Chill Zone at reDiscover Center. Stick around and experiment with different possibilities of making a Super-Soaker at home!
STEP 1 - Gather Your Materials
- Look for a variety of clean empty plastic containers.
- Save the caps for experimenting.
- Get a nail or a pushpin to poke the caps.
- Collect some plastic straws.
STEP 2 - Get to Thinking
What is the action that propels the liquid? Squeezing, Shaking, and Blasting might work, BUT... Said one expert, “The Super Soaker used a piston pumper and a pressurized water reservoir to compress air within the reservoir. Here, pressing the trigger opens an air valve, and the compressed air pushes the water out.” Said a kid, “I don’t have that.”
No problem, try to tinker with it. You may be surprised by what you learn.
For instance, consider:
- What is the size of the hole where the water squirts out, and how does that affect the result?
- How can you make the water go only one way?
Ask an adult to help you research:
- What is a Pressurized Water Reservoir?
- What is an Air Valve? Hint, one example is in your bike tire tube. The air gets pumped in but will not come out! That's the air valve working its magic. Basically, it's like when you suck on a straw and then block it with your tongue. When you lift the straw clear out of the glass of water, as long as your tongue is blocking the end, the water will not spill out of the straw.
Learn more about Lonnie Johnson and making PVC Pumps at home by watching the videos below.
Watch “The NASA Scientist Who Invented the Super Soaker”
Watch “How To Make A PVC Pump!”
STEP 3 - Experiment with Materials
To make a simple water soaker, you can start with the instructions below and then modify!
Puncture the cap using a pushpin and carefully widen the hole with scissors.
Place the straw over the hole you made.
Use Hot Glue and attach a drinking straw to the inside of the cap covering the hole you made.
Put the straw into the bottle and adjust the length to hover right above the bottom of the bottle.
Fill it with water and “Whoosh”!
Give it a try and then think about what's next! Look around and test out different types of bottles. How would this soaker work differently if you used a thinner straw? Does using a bottle that's more squishy change how far it can shoot? What kind of decorations do you want it to have?
Visit the Techniques tab in reDiscover Center's Pedagogy Resources to access our Tiny Techniques videos and get tips for working safely and efficiently with tools.
Once you have finished your Super-Soaker, share it with friends and family. If you share a picture on social media, make sure to tag @reDiscoverCtr so that we can experiment together!