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A Global STEM Activity & Family Service Project

 This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #40Pounds #CollectiveBias


I’m sure the last month at your home has been a whirlwind like ours — all the craziness that comes with starting a new school year. But in the midst of all that happens during our school year, it’s important to remember that not all children have the luxury of attending school.

If you remember one of our recent book lists, we shared stories that inspire a love of learning.  Today we’re going to revisit that topic with an AWESOME activity that combines learning about world cultures, a great DIY math & engineering activity and an easy way families can serve children who aren’t able to attend school.


A Global STEM Activity & Family Service Project

While we are all stuffing backpacks, doing homework and shuttling the kids back and forth to all their school activities, life is very different halfway around the world.

In Ethiopia, there are many children who will never have the opportunity to go to school.  And it’s not because they don’t have a school close to their village — it’s due to the fact that the kids (especially girls) have to walk to the closest river to fill water containers and then carry 40 pounds of water and walk for 3 hours back to their home.

Every day!

And on top of all the work they do, it’s not even clean water or safe to drink water 🙁


Yet, it’s the only water that’s available to them for all their daily needs.

I want you to take a look at your kids — chances are, they struggle to carry a backpack home if it’s full.  Now imagine them carrying 40 pounds — and walking for 3 hours straight with it!

I know, it’s hard to imagine and it’s really important to teach our children that not everyone has clean water available or is able to just head off to school.  So we thought we’d create a way to experience how hard this type of work is — to carry 40 pounds of water.  Plus, we have a great way for families to help these young kids in Ethiopia!


Engineering a Simple Balance Scale

The first thing you need is something that weighs 40 pounds!

We decided that we wanted to use books since we are big readers and realize that if we had to walk to the river to fetch and carry water, we probably wouldn’t have any time to read (which is just a depressing thought).

Here’s our dilemma — we don’t have a scale in the house.  So we needed to find a way to determine how many books would equal 40 pounds.

The simple solution:  create a rudimentary scale!

All you need for this engineering activity is a ruler or yard stick, something to balance it on (we chose to use a large rock), a few items from your pantry and books.


The first step is to set up your scale by balancing the ruler/yard stick on the rock.  Choose a rock with a fairly large surface area and the ruler/yard stick should balance right at the halfway point (so right around 6 inches for a ruler or 18 inches for a yard stick).


Once you have it balanced, collect some of the food items from your pantry that weigh 16 ounces (or 1 pound).  Most food items will have the weight listed on the package.  We chose to use a box of the Emergen-C Raspberry packets along with two applesauce cups.

Emergen-C® is packed with B vitamins, antioxidants† , electrolytes plus more vitamin C than 10 oranges^. With over 20 flavors, you have plenty of delicious varieties to choose from.  † Zinc and Manganese ^Based on the nutrient database value for a large, raw orange.

Place these items on one side of your yard stick.  Then grab a few books and put them on the other side of the yard stick one at a time.


When we put the first book on the scale, you can see that it weighs less that our food items.  However, once we put on a second book of equal size, it was quickly over the one pound limit.  So we tried different size books until we found that one hardcover picture book + one smaller and thin reader book was about = to one pound.

We did this a few more times with various books to get a good estimate of weight and then we stacked 40 pounds worth of books (which was 47 books).


That’s quite a pile!

And it’s heavy — my daughter will tell you that there is NO way she could carry that for 3 hours!


She had a hard time holding the books for 3 minutes before I had to swoop in and catch them.


Take the #40Pounds Challenge!

Now let’s revisit the fact that children have to carry this burden every single day … but here’s how we can help!

Emergen-C will donate $5 to charity water to help fund projects that bring clean, accessible water to communities in Ethiopia.

All you need to do to support the #40Pounds Challenge:

1. Find something that weighs 40 pounds!  You can use this STEM activity to find items right at home.

2. Take a photo of your or your kids holding the 40 pounds and upload the photo to Instagram tagging @EmergenC and #40Pounds.

That’s it!  So simple and $5 will be donated to a great cause and help families and communities to have clean water.


You can find Emergen-C in a variety of flavors at your Walmart store in the Vitamin/Adult Nutrition aisle — be sure to look up as they were on the very top shelf in our local store.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.



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