Working Well

Introduction: Working Well

Not all communities can turn on the faucet and get running water. During Earth Day we made wells out of milk cartons and talked about water usage and how some people have to get their water.

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: The Base

For this step you will need a large milk carton or juice carton. Begin by first rinsing your carton out really well. This will be the base of your well.

Step 2: Cut Out the Base

Using a sharp scissors, cut two opposite sides of the carton completely off. On the two remaining sides, leave a one inch strip in the middle so that the top of the carton stays attached. This strip will be important because you will use it to place the crank shaft. Make sure it doesn't get too skinny.

Step 3: The Bucket

Find an object for your bucket. For our bucket, we used a dixie cup. In the picture you see a circular metal ring. This made the cup sink in the water. Its important that your bucket sinks in water without your help so that it will fill up with water. If you are using a smaller milk carton, we have found that glue stick caps work well for buckets too.

Step 4: Buckets Need Handles

Your bucket will need handles to attach it to the crank shaft. On our model, we first punched holes in the sides of the cup with a hole punch. Then we attached 2 pieces of string, one tied in each hole. String was about 5" in length. If you are using a smaller milk carton and a glue cap, pierce the sides of the glue cap with a darning needle. (This is a thicker needle than one you would use to sew on a button.) Then use an open paper clip to fashion a handle.

Step 5: Crank Shaft

On our model, we used a pencil as the crank shaft. To place this, punch two holes using a hand hole punch. You will want them about a half inch down from the top of the well, centered in the strip you left on the base sides. Try to get the holes directly across from each other so that the crank shaft will sit level. In a smaller model, we used drink straws -the ones that you get at the bar to mix a drink with for the shaft.

Step 6: Attaching the Bucket

Attach what you used to make the handle of the bucket to the crank shaft. For our larger model we just needed to tie the string to the pencil. For our smaller models, we attached a 3" piece of embroidery thread to the handle of the bucket and then tied the other end on to the straw that was being used for the crank shaft. Make sure to NOT loop your ties. Tie a normal knot like you would on your shoes. If you make a loop and tie your crank shaft will spin and not wind up the string.

Step 7: Fill 'er Up!

Fill the base of your well with water. Make sure to leave some space at the top so that you don't overflow your well when your bucket goes in.

Step 8: Try It!

Drop the empty bucket over the side and into the well. Turn the crank shaft and let the bucket wind down into the water. Turn the crank the other way and the bucket comes up.

If your bucket is efficient, it will come up with a full bucket of water. Our students had to do some trial and error when their bucket didn't come up full. Some problems they came across were: floating bucket, handle not even/straight (causing the bucket to come up sideways), bucket not moving with the crank shaft (because of looping the string). A learning point was also making sure the kids realized that you can't reach in a well and push the bucket down. You have to stay "outside" the well. We used a lego man to demonstrate this and talked about how he couldn't go in the well or.....

Step 9: Have Fun!

The last challenge was to have students make modifications to the well to make it more efficient/better designed - like adding a handle to the crank shaft!

Be the First to Share


    • Toys and Games Challenge

      Toys and Games Challenge
    • Backyard Contest

      Backyard Contest
    • Silly Hats Speed Challenge

      Silly Hats Speed Challenge

    2 Discussions


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks so much. Hope you enjoy.