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NSW Syllabuses

STEM Early Stage 1 - Activity 3

Keep it dry

Description of activity

Students design and create a piece of clothing or device to keep a teddy bear dry. This activity will take approximately 1 hour.


During wet weather it is important (and more comfortable) to keep dry. Students investigate materials that are waterproof. Using these materials, they design and make protective clothing for a teddy bear or doll.



STe-4WS explores their immediate surroundings by questioning, observing using their senses and communicating to share their observations and ideas
STe-5WT uses a simple design process to produce solutions with identified purposes
MAe-3WM uses concrete materials and/or pictorial representations to support conclusions

Knowledge and understanding

STe-7NE observes, using their senses, how daily and seasonal changes in the environment affect them and other living things
STe-9ME identifies that objects are made of materials that have observable properties
STe-10ME recognises how familiar products, places and spaces are made to suit their purpose
MAe-9MG describes and compares lengths and distances using everyday language
MAe-10MG describes and compares areas using everyday language
VAES1.1 makes simple pictures and other kinds of artworks about things and experiences
VAES1.2 experiments with a range of media in selected forms


  • A range of materials that may or may not be waterproof
  • Cardboard, plastic bags, eye-dropper, wax crayons and paper clips
  • Glue, reusable putty and waterproof tape
  • Round-ended safety scissors

Work, health and safety

Check relevant Work, health and safety guidelines.

Evidence of work for assessment purposes

  • A labelled sketch/pattern of the clothing/device showing its design and the materials from which it is made
  • A photo of the teddy bear wearing the clothing or using the device

STEM teaching and learning activities

  • Students observe pictures of a rainy day or view the YouTube video 'Teddy bear in the rain'.
  • Students examine a range of materials to determine those that may be waterproof. Test by using an eye-dropper to see whether a drop of water will be absorbed.
  • Discuss, with students, the properties that are needed for materials to be waterproof.
  • Brainstorm a range of items which might be used to keep a teddy bear dry.
  • Discuss, with students, the types of materials that could be used and how to waterproof them, if necessary.
  • Demonstrate the use of a pattern or template to make clothes.
  • Discuss how the materials can be joined.
  • Students design a piece of clothing or device.
  • Students make the piece of clothing or device.
  • Students test the piece of clothing or device to determine whether it keeps the teddy bear dry.

Vocabulary list

Absorb – to take in or soak up a liquid
Area – the amount of space inside a boundary
Material – the matter from which something is made, eg fabric, metal, wood
Property – a quality or characteristic of something (not a possession or house)
Words used to identify properties: flexible, inflexible, elastic, protective, waterproof, shiny
Repel – keep or push (something) out or away
Surface – the outside layer of an object
Texture – the feel of the material

Key inquiry questions

What sorts of things can be used to keep us dry in the rain?
Encourage students to suggest a number of possibilities, eg umbrella, poncho, rain boots, rain hat.

How can you describe this material?
Encourage the use of specific words relating to the properties of the material. Is it waterproof? How could you make it waterproof, eg cardboard is not waterproof, but colouring it in with wax crayons will make it somewhat waterproof.

Would you use this material to make clothing?
Encourage the student to justify their choice. What is it about the material that is good for waterproof clothing?

How much material would you need to make the object?
Encourage students to predict whether one area is bigger or smaller than another. Demonstrate how one surface is bigger than another by comparing directly, superimposing or superpositioning the two surfaces.

Additional information

The following words outline some common preconceived ideas that many students hold, which are scientifically inaccurate and may impede student understanding. The word 'material' has a specific meaning in the context of clothing, to mean the fabric (or other substance) used in the clothing. More generally, 'material' means any substance which can be used in a product. For example, the materials used in window frames can include: wood, aluminium, paint, etc.

The word 'property' is often taken as someone's possession, house or land. In terms of Science, 'property' refers to a characteristic of a substance. For example, glass is hard, transparent and can break easily.

Support materials

YouTube video: Teddy bear in the rain
Teachers' TV: Investigating materials: Observe lessons on investigating materials.
YouTube video: How to make a Chinese hat
YouTube video: How to make a doll poncho first 1:35 minutes
Big Rain Coming: Integrated program about the environment

Adjustments for the diversity of learners

Observe the effects of rain on different areas, eg concrete, brick, sand, mud, grass. How much rain is absorbed by each surface?

Explore the effects of different strengths of rain by providing ping-pong balls in an ice-cream container. Observe the movement of the balls when they are exposed to different strengths of water, eg sprinkling, pouring and flooding.

Create a vocabulary list of words describing different strengths of rain or types of weather.

Observe and describe different cloud formations.

Observe and describe rainbows.

Devise a way to measure/compare the amount of rain that falls in a given time.


By completing this STEM activity, your students have investigated properties of matter. This knowledge will form the basis of your students' understanding of the properties of the states of matter and the Particle Theory of Matter which will be introduced in Science Stage 4 and is essential for further concepts studied in Chemistry.

You have also given your students practical experiences in planning and undertaking a design process to engineer a solution to solve a problem.