Last year (maybe even as long as two years ago), we learned about England for our geography lessons, and during that we covered a fun little bit of English history with Queen Victoria, and had an impromptu bit of history lessons and science lessons as the kids worked to design a bathing machine for Queen Victoria
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Our activity inspiration: Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine
Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine* follows a somewhat fictionalized account of how Queen Victoria really wanted to go swimming (bathing in the ocean) but was well aware it was not proper for the queen of England to be seen walking into the ocean just like any common person. She expressed her desire to her husband, Prince Albert, and he got to work finding a way for Queen Victoria to go swimming.
This book is delightfully cute, and at the end it has a couple of pages covering the inspiration for the story, and how we know so much about Queen Victoria’s reign (hint, she kept a lot of diaries).
Supplies for our bathing machine STEM activity
STEM activity: Design a machine to get Queen Victoria into the ocean without anyone seeing her in her bathing suit
If I had thought ahead, I would have stopped reading the book halfway through, and just let the kids see what they could come up with, unfortunately I did not do that, so they got to see the final product.
Here’s Queen Victoria’s ACTUAL bathing machine. She could step into the one side fully dressed, and while she was in the one side she would change into her bathing suit, and from there she would step into the other side of this cubicle, and while she was changing a servant would move the wheeled cart into the ocean, and she could easily step out into the ocean water up to her waist already.
It’s quite an ingenius design, and became quite popular for other “women of quality” to do the same.
Princess’ design was most clearly influenced by the book. She had an elaborate set-up with her stuffed animals all set to draw her room into the ocean.
The boys both went with their favorite plan of build something with Legos. Batman’s design was similar, but I don’t really have a good picture of it.