Beat the flood challenge - Practical Action


Links to Practical Action's beat the flood challenge, including the teacher and student materials, beat the flood poster, competition winners and schools' experiences of the challenge.

beat-the-flood-challenge RSC Recommended

A short video by Practical Action, presented by Ortis Deley, explaining how using materials with the right properties is important when designing a house.


This challenge, from Practical Action, has pupils working in teams to design and make a model home that is able to withstand the effects of flooding...then test it by standing their models in water and showering with a hose pipe.

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.
  • Asking their own questions about scientific phenomena.
  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, including:
    • Carrying out comparative and fair tests.
    • Researching using a wide range of secondary sources of information.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Identify and compare the suitability of a variety of everyday materials for particular uses.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • That different materials have different properties, including how waterproof or absorbent a material is.

Suggested activity use

You could use this resource as part of a whole class activity, with children working in small groups to carry out investigations and reporting their results to the rest of the class. You could choose to use this as a 1-day challenge or split the sessions over a number of days.

This activity also works well when used as an enrichment activity with a science club or during a school science day.

Beat the flood challenge has good cross curricular links with maths and design technology.

Practical considerations

Children may need research time about flood-resistant homes before they begin designing their own.

Some children may need prompts to help them design their homes.

Various materials will be needed for children to construct and test their houses.

Consideration will need to be taken if children live in a flood-risk areas or have been flooded; however, if you are in a flood-risk area, then practical knowledge levels should be very high.