In Search of Solutions: Desert survival


In Search of Solutions: Challenge students to extract drinking water from damp sand, a real desert survival scenario! Linking to topics on evaporation and condensation.



If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated based on their data and observations.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Identify the part played by evaporation and condensation in the water cycle and associate the rate of evaporation with temperature.
  • Use knowledge of solids, liquids and gases to decide how mixtures might be separated, including through filtering, sieving, and evaporating.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • That their knowledge of separating mixtures, evaporation, and condensation can be used to solve a real-life problem.

Suggested activity use

This activity provides an excellent opportunity for children to see how their knowledge of condensation and evaporation can be used to solve a real-life problem. Children can work in groups to solve the problem posed.

Practical considerations

Carrying out the activity in the suggested way provides excellent links to the English and Geography curricula.

Children may need prior knowledge of the water cycle, condensation and evaporation, and their roles in separating water from a solid.

You will need to gather materials listed in the activity before the activity is carried out, including preparing wet sand.

Please take into account health and safety considerations, particularly with regards to the lamps that are used to provide heat.