Building a Storm Drain


In this design challenge, you'll be designing a storm drain cover that catches litter in order to protect our waterways. By thinking about the kind of waste that might wash into storm drains and then into waterways, you can consider immediate, localized action as well as larger systems that can protect our planet. 


While the initial activity can be around 45 minutes, don’t be surprised if you find yourself spending 60 minutes or more perfecting your creation and even researching the impact of humans on earth and how we can protect the planet.

Design Challenge

Create a storm drain cover that can keep trash out while letting water pass through in order to protect our waterways. 


You will need materials for four parts of this challenge:

  • The Drainage Pipe System (waterproof container)

  • Your Drain Cover Frame (to hold your design)

  • The Drain Cover (your design!)

  • The Litter

We’ve added suggestions of materials for each of these parts, but use whatever you have on hand — be creative. Just remember, everything is going to get wet! 


Engineering Design Challenge, Earth Science




45 minutes to 1 hour

Key Concepts

Watershed, pollution, storm drains, iteration, problem-solving

Want a challenge?


Walk around your neighborhood and observe different drain designs. How would you improve them?

Want a challenge?


Create a storm drain cover that can keep trash out while letting water pass through in order to protect our waterways.

Want a challenge?


Can you stop the pollution if the storm comes from a different angle?

If you think this looks fun, wait ‘til you try these!

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