Hanging Gardens of Babylon - Archimedes Screw

Week 8: We made an Archimedes Screw.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Built during the second Babylonian Empire, the legend says that the gardens were a gift from Nebuchadnezzar II to his wife.

There are several mysteries about this ancient wonder, but one has to do with water. One theory says that the gardens were watered using Archimedes Screws several hundred years before Archimedes, the Greek inventor of the Archimedes screw lived.

There are three different types of simple machines.
  • Lever
  • Inclined Plane, Screw, Wedge
  • Wheel and Axle, Pulley
An Archimedes screw is a simple machine used to lift material from a low point to a high point by increasing the distance thereby lessening the steepness.

This Archimedes screw is located at the Playmobil Fun Park in Germany. Kids can spend hours moving material around in this play pit.

Our Archimedes screw was much smaller. We followed the instructions in the Walk Beside Me blog to create our Archimedes screws.
We began by cutting a hole and the end off an empty water bottle.

Then we cut six circles out of stiff paper to fit inside the water bottle.

A slot was cut in the circles and they we put onto a skewer.

Next they were taped together to form a spiral.

The spiral was stretched out and taped to the skewer to be held in place.

The screw was tested with cereal. It had to be modified several times before it worked. There were many issues.
The cereal got caught in the tape joints of the disks.
The disks were not spread out far enough.
Many disks were too small so the cereal fell back to the bottom before it could be raised to the top.

All the issues were fixed with tape and each screw successfully lifted at least one piece of cereal.
We used 1 liter bottles. I think it would have worked better with bigger bottles. This was a more challenging project than I anticipated, but very rewarding. About two and a half hours were spent reworking the screws to get them to work. This proved to be a true lesson in engineering, science, history, and patience.

To see our other history activities please visit our history page.


  1. Well done your kids for persevering to make the Archimedes Screws work! I'm not sure mine would have had the patience... maybe it will come with age. This was fascinating and educational for me, thanks.

  2. I love this and will be sharing with my kiddos next week. I'd say that hanging gardens are one heck of a present from your husband, wouldn't you? Thanks for sharing at the Homeschool Review. -Savannah @ HammockTracks


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