Rip Current Model
Country: United States
Date: Summer 2009
Do you have any ideas for building a model of a rip
current with grades 6-8? We would be studying water safety and
scientific lessons to be learned through marina aquatic activities.
I feel like I have searched to the end of the Internet with no luck.
One idea for a model is to use a medium sized kiddie pool, put in a
non-floating) sheet/board to simulate a beach/shoreline along one side of
the pool. Then you need some kind of current generator- a hand or motor
riven propeller (e.g. an electric trolling motor), or a pretty strong pump,
to direct a stream of water in towards the "shoreline"
Once you get the current going, throw in floating things (small balls?) to
show the circulation pattern- towards shore in one area, parallel in another
section, away in another. Maybe to illustrate the struggle of trying to swim
against the current use one of those small electric or windup swimming toys
(something that swims in straight lines) or a toy boat that is not too powerful.
Put it in at different points swimming towards the shore (from the same distance
from shore) to illustrate how it takes longer (or you run out of power, if a wind
up toy) before you can make it to shore.
Rather than building a model, try to get a U-Tube posting of a demonstration of the
phenomenon. That way, you students can re-run it at will.
I have seen the Rip current done as a table top demonstration, but it is tricky and
requires dye, Plexiglas and luck.
You might also try the scientific catalogs such as Ward's or Carolina to see if they
Best of luck.
R. W. "Bob" Avakian
Oklahoma State Univ. Inst. of Technology
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