With the school holidays upon us many kids, and their parents, are probably wondering what to do with their free time. Well why not help them to build a simple steam engine. I had a go myself some time ago, I made a ‘putt-putt’ engine and was delighted when it worked after only a few hours work. All you need is an aluminium drinks can, plastic straws, epoxy glue, foam tray, some tin foil, a candle, elastic bands and of course water.
I followed the instructions on the excellent sciencetoymaker.org website. There is a video to describe each stage of the process. Click here to be directed to the instructions and here to read how the steam engine works. Don’t let children do this on their own. There are some parts, like cutting sharp aluminium and lighting the candle, that require adult attention. The website itself is an excellent font of knowledge and suggestions for fun experiments for kids and adults. I photographed my own attempt and these are below: