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This project is designed to support the STEAM HEAT unit. It provides a STEAM learning project in the context of a design and engineering challenge suitable for kindy

Students learn:

Curriculum Learning Activities
SCIENCE Real world, evidence based sustainable engineering design & measurement
TECHNOLOGY using technology in design and evaluation of engineered environments
ART How aesthetic choices affecting design and 'sustainability
ENGINEERING Investigate and compare properties and suitability of materials
MATHEMATICS Methods of quantification and evaluation using authentic data

Video 1. Mother Hen Teaching Young Chicks How To Eat

UFO/Hypno Chickens/Birds/Chooks In/From Space

Chickens are social, inquisitive, intelligent birds, and many find their behaviour entertaining. Certain breeds, such as Silkies and many bantam varieties, are generally docile and are often recommended as good pets around children with disabilities. 1) Chickens can be hypnotised

ICARUS, short for 'International Cooperation for animal Research Using Space', is a global collaboration of animal scientists to establish a satellite based infrastructure for earth observation of small objects such as migratory birds, bats, or sea turtles. http://www.orn.mpg.de/ICARUS

Johnson Space Center - This project also provides students an opportunity to see for themselves the important role that environmental management plays here on Earth and as humans venture further into space. http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=16712

London-based kids’ entertainment specialist CAKE, leading Mexico-based toon shop Ánima and Australian animation producer Studio Moshi have kicked off production on a new, surreal comedy cartoon series titled Space Chickens in Space. Disney EMEA has picked up the first 52 x 11 min. season and 11 two-minute shorts from CAKE, which is handling all international distribution outside Latin America (Ánima) and Australia, where Studio Moshi has sold the show to Channel 9 and Disney Australia. http://www.animationmagazine.net/tv/cake-anima-moshi-hatching-space-chickens-in-space/

Chicken Feeder Design Challenge:

Chickens need constant feeding - Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is:

Use simple materials to build an automatic, gravity driven, food dispenser and/or water dispenser that will feed and water a chicken for more than one day.

How Gravity Feeders Work:

Gravity is what pushes stuff down.

Gravity feeders work because stuff falls down. The feed and the water are held up in a large storage container, and then fall down a bit at a time into a dish or bowl where the food/water is made available to the chickens.

In automatic 'gravity feeders' the food/water is pushed down only by gravity.

Video 2. Gravity - things fall down:

Can you see any similarities between this video and how the mother is feeding the chicks in the video above?

Video 2. Gravity - things fall down:

Chicken gravity feeder and waterer

Getting Started:

Automatic gravity Feeder: Take a two litre plastic bottle and cut two rectangular holes big enough for the feed to come out at the bottom of the bottle. Glue the bottle (you could screw or tape it) to a plastic dish and voila: you have an automatic feeder for two to four chickens.

Automatic Gravity Waterer:

Task: We need to make a chicken waterer that uses gravity to automatically dispense food/water over a long period of time, automatically.

Why is important to do this over a long period of time? so that we don't have to come to feed them every day, to minimise the workload for the farmer.

You need 2 plastic bottles, lids and a dish.

  1. Fill the 1st bottle with water, put the bottle in the dish. What will happen to the water?
  2. What if we put a hole in it? What will happen?
  3. Teacher does it twice:
  4. First time: Put the hole in higher than the top edge of the dish. The larger the hole, the faster the flow. No top on the bottle.
  5. Fill the bottle with more water than the dish's capacity. Keep hole covered with finger. Place the bottle in the dish. Release the hole.
  6. What will happen? (Watch it overflow and spill out of the dish).
  7. Second bottle: Put a hole in the bottle, lower than the rim of the dish. No top on the bottle.
  8. What will happen? (It will still overflow).
  9. Repeat by refilling the same bottle but with the lid on the bottle secured.
  10. What will happen?
  11. Test it.(The water should only fill the bowl to the level of the hole at which time it should stop flowing).
  12. Use a sponge to soak up some of the water in the dish (simulating the chicken drinking).
  13. What happens when the water level gets below the hole? (The water level fills up in the dish automatically to the top of the hole).
  14. It can be a larger hole, or more than one hole. The water level in the dish will only rise to the level of the highest hole.
  15. Why? The pressure inside the bottle is equal to the pressure outside the bottle. As the water escapes, a vacuum is created inside the bottle, sucking the water back into the bottle.
  16. What happens if you turn the lid (release)? The water pours out.
  17. What happens when you tighten the lid? The water stops running out of the hole.

Here is the instructions without the questioning

Take a clean, empty two litre water/juice/milk bottle with top screwed on.

Cut a small rectangular hole about five millimetres wide and located about fifteen millimetres above the bottom. Fill it up with water and placed it into a tupperware or similar dish. Glue the bottle (you could screw or tape it) to a plastic dish and voila: an automatic waterer suitable for two to four chickens.

NOTE: Make sure that you first clean the plastic bottles thoroughly before use (to avoid making your chickens sick from anything left behind in the bottles):

Some Problems To Think About:

Up to 90% of chicken feed is wasted:

My chickens have had this problem from day one. They THROW their food everywhere.
They stick their 'pecky' little beaks into the grain and just start flinging and
chucking everything out of the feeder.

Chickens will not eat the grain that falls on the ground - the food rots.

Food waste is expensive and unhealthy. Why is the food waste unhealthy?

  • Can you design a chicken feeder to help reduce food waste:
  • Can you think of a way to keep both rain and other animals out of the feeder during the night (when chickens are not eating)?

Food Type:

I used to give them organic grain but for some reason that particular food REALLY threw them into a food throwing frenzy. So I switched back to organic pellet chicken feed hoping it would slow down the daily food fights.

Food Alarm

Design a way to let you know when the feeder is low on food

Feeder Waste Measurement

Do chickens waste more or less food depending on the design of the feeder?

Feeder Art:

Do chickens like some colours more than other colours? Compare chicken feeders of same type but having different colours

Feeder Popularity:

Can you think of a way to measure how popular your feeder is? Your feeder may not create much waste simply because your chickens prefer to feed at another cafe…

Food Waste:

Using a photograph or some other evidence, design a way to measure and record how much food is wasted. This can be used as a simple measure for the efficiency of each feeder.

For example:

  • Place your feeder on a clean area or on a plastic/rubber (or similar) mat.
  • Take a photograph and use it to estimate how much food is wasted by each design.
  • Weigh amount of food used to fill the feeder. Collect and weigh the wasted food (easy if you are using a mat under the feeder) and compare with the weight of the food that you put into the feeder.

For example, make a 'table' and mark down whether each feeder wasted a lot or a little food:

Lots of food wasted 'Lots' total Not much food wasted 'Not much' total
1111 1111 1 eleven 1111 11 seven

Fig 1. Amount of food wasted by eighteen chicken feeders designed by Class Kx


Make sure that your chickens always have a reliable backup supply of food and water. If you’re going out of town for more than one night, have someone come check on them. Which you would probably do anyway, right?

More Examples - Automatic Gravity Feeders & Waterers:

Example PVC pipe chicken feeder Automatic feeders are designed to allow your chickens to eat throughout the day whenever they are hungry. These feeders release a small amount of food into the bowl and keeps the remaining food secure and fresh for a later time.

The food canister should be protected from dirt, rain, and other elements in an airtight container. The feeder should not allow your chickens to eat everything at one sitting, but rather let them choose when to eat.

Automatic waterers provide clean, fresh, and cool water to your chicken all day. With hectic schedules, it's easy to forget to refill the water bowl.


  1. Why doesn't all of the food fall out of the bottom of the tube?
  2. Why doesn't all of the water just run away?

Chicken Feeder

Example gravity feed waterer:

  1. Place a plastic bottle/bucket/container upside down into a deep walled lid/saucer (see photo below)
  2. Mark 2 spots on the bucket/container that are lower than the edge of the lid/saucer
  3. Remove the bottle/bucket/container
  4. The marks should be on the top edge of the bucket, near the open end
  5. Use a skewer, scissor tip or drill to make 2 small holes where marked
  6. Fill with bucket/container with water and put the saucer on top
  7. Holding the bucket and saucer together, quickly flip the waterer over.


  • The water will slowly start flowing out of the holes and fill the saucer up to the level of the holes.
  • The water should not overflow but should maintain a constant level due to the vacuum created inside the bucket.

Popcorn bucket

Example gravity dish feeder

This is a simple feeder made using a popcorn bucket and a lid fixed to an aluminium water bowl.

Notches are cut out around the bottom of the bucket which allows the grain to flow out as needed. We use a similar feeder for our chicks with a 1 kilo plastic coffee container and a 'pan' cut from the bottom of a bucket.

The lids keep the food clean, and both pans are deep enough to prevent the chickens from scratching the food out onto the ground.

Rainy Afternoon Video:

This is a long video that contains heaps of interesting facts about chickens.

Stop the video wherever you like - You (students) don't need to watch all of it!

Video 2. The Private Life Of Chickens

brainbox/young-engineers/chickens/home.txt · Last modified: 10/07/2019/ 13:07 (external edit)