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Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Bodies of water, gravity


Earth is a very watery place! More than 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water. This is due to the many water bodies that can be found everywhere on our planet. What types of water bodies do you know? They are all very distinct from one another in their appearance, size, shape, and movement. In this activity, you will explore the distinct characteristics of a river by creating a river model inside a pan with sand, pebbles, and real water! After that, you can continue to model other water bodies, too!


Svenja Lohner, PhD, Science Buddies
This activity is not appropriate for use as a science fair project. Good science fair projects have a stronger focus on controlling variables, taking accurate measurements, and analyzing data. To find a science fair project that is just right for you, browse our library of over 1,200 Science Fair Project Ideas or use the Topic Selection Wizard to get a personalized project recommendation.


  • Aluminum pans or shallow dishes
  • Sand
  • Pebbles
    Note: If you do not have any sand or pebbles, you can substitute these with other materials such as rice, grains, Lego®, or blocks. If you use other materials, make sure they are not able to dissolve in water or float on the water surface.
  • Water
  • Bottle with a narrow opening
  • Aluminum foil
  • Small bowl for water collection
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Nail
  • Book or box
  • Paper towels
  • Optional: Blue food dye
    Materials needed for the 'Make a River Model' activity.


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Active Time
30-45 minutes
Total Project Time
30-45 minutes
Key Concepts
Bodies of water, gravity
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