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Homemade Water Clock: Ancient Science

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Time for some fun water-themed science! Have you ever heard of a water clock?

A water clock was an ancient way to tell time with natural elements, similar to an hourglass or a sundial. Time is measured by the flow of water from one container to the other. It is one of the oldest ways to measure the passing of time from the ancient world of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans!

We made a homemade water clock this week and I am going to show you how I did it.

Homemade Water Clock- Water STEM

They used to make water clocks with bowls filled with water that had a hole at the bottom and was placed on a ledge above another bowl. The water poured into the second bowl.

As time went on water clocks became more advanced with gears and water wheels, eventually leading to the invention of mechanical clocks. They calibrated the water clocks with a sundial for accuracy to measure the passage of time over longer periods, such as days and nights. You can still use them to measure time today!

The water clock design we created is made out of water bottles. It is pretty cool! The water clock works like an hourglass with the water passing back and forth between the two bottles at a constant rate.

It’s so fun to create something that measures time without technology. My kids were amazed that this was even possible since they are so used to the digital era.

How to Make a Homemade Water Clock:

making a water clock

Supplies you will need-

2 water bottles
Coffee straw/stirrer
Hot glue gun
Sharpie marker

  1. Empty the water bottles and keep the lids. Using a hot glue gun, glue the tops of the two lids together.

glue caps together

2. Find a drill bit to match the width of your straw and drill two holes through the two caps.

Drill through caps


3. Cut the straw in half and place them through the holes with one long and one short facing each side. Trim off the extra. And hot glue around the edges of the straw to secure them in place.

cut straw

4. Fill one bottle with water and screw the lids back on to both bottles.

water timer

5. Flip the bottle over and time how long it takes the water to flow from one bottle to the other. Mark with a line at each minute. Flip them over and do the same on the other bottle so both sides have the minutes marked.

timing the water flow

6. The water clock can be used as a regular timer for games or activities.  Add colored water to make it more interesting! My kids have been totally obsessed with this since I made it!

Ancient Water Clock- water timer

It’s this a fun project?  This is an awesome combination of history and science and would make an awesome STEM project!

See More Water Science:

Rising Water Science Experiment
Bubble Shooter
Homemade Bubble Blower Machine
Water Chemistry~ testing your Water
Water Filtration Experiment

This is part of the 31 Days of Outdoor STEM series hosted by Little Bins for Little Hands.

Outdoor STEM

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