Build Heron’s Fountain

This week I am actually going to be making something that does not require electricity. Although, you may be able to fool people into thinking it does. We are going to be making Heron’s fountain out of common household materials. This is a really easy build and would be a perfect project for to build with your kids. Maybe you could even sneak in a lesson on fluid dynamics or perpetual motion?

Heron (Hero) of Alexandria was a mathematician and an inventor. He is well known for his steam engine, the Aeolipile, and many other inventions that use pneumatics. (wikipedia) I am going to try and recreate one of my favorite inventions by Heron, the “Heron Fountain”.

Total cost of build = $2 (you can scavenge the 3 water bottles)

What You need: Supplies


(3) 16.9 FL OZ Water bottles (I used Dasani)
(1) 9″ length of tubing
(1) 11″ length of tubing
(1) 15″ length of tubing
Small amount of clay (Play-Doh)

Note: The tubing is for aquariums and is 3/16″ thin wall rigid tubing. Almost any tubing would work, even flexible, but the rigid makes it really easy. I was able to pick some up at a local pet supply store for about $0.50 per foot.

What you need: Tools and equipment


Drill (hand or electric powered)
5/32″ drill bit (slightly smaller than the tubing diameter)

Step 1: Make the fountains’ reservoir


Cut (1) of the bottles in half as pictured. Keep the bottom of the bottle, you can use it to fill the fountain when we are all done.

Step 2: Drilling the holes


You are going to need (2) holes in each cap. Start by drilling the (2) holes in (1) cap, use a piece of scrap wood to support the cap.


When you are done with the first cap, use it as a guide to drill (2) holes into the top of the remaining (2) caps. You can place the caps top-to-top when drilling the holes. Now you should have (3) caps, each with (2) holes drilled in about the same location.

Step 3: Drilling the holes Part 2


Take one of the caps and use it as a guide to drill (2) holes in the bottom of one of the remaining intact bottles. This will end up being bottle {b} as in the diagram below.

Step 5: Connect the tubing


Connect the tubing as in the above diagram. All connections should be airtight. If you used the 5/32 drill bit they should be. If not, just add a small amount of clay (Play-Doh) to seal the openings around the tubing. I had to seal the area between bottle {a} & {b}. You can see it in the first picture. The other connections didn’t leak and I did not use any clay.


Note: Make sure the tubing is at the proper heights in each bottle. These heights are Very Important.

Step 6: Add water and enjoy

Now all you have to do is fill bottle {b} with water and screw the whole system together. To start your fountain, add water to the upper bottle {a}. Enjoy your homemade Heron’s Fountain.