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Name: Laura
Status: Educator
Grade: 6-8
Location: CA
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.

Don Yee

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 have something.

Best of luck.

R. W. "Bob" Avakian
Oklahoma State Univ. Inst. of Technology

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