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Activity Teacher Notes 2.7

2.7 How well designed is your tent?

Levels: P, S, SS
Focus curriculum areas: Science
Supporting curriculum area: Mathematics/numeracy
Key concepts:

Cooperation, technological solutions, weight

Click on the image above to see
movie of tent being put up

Understanding goals

Students work co-operatively in groups.

Students compare and contrast design features and technological solutions using tents as an example. They look at the characteristics of different fabrics and materials.

You will need

  • Support staff or parent help
  • At least two different styles of two-person tents
  • weighing scales, preferably two sets
  • fabric/material samples

See Background Note 2b - Planning for a safe trip in the outdoors

Teacher Note: keep tents and their parts separate. Two small groups can go outside together.


1. In small groups, students will practice putting up a tent in a grassy area of the school grounds.

a. Before putting your tent up, use scales to weigh each part. Record each weight in the first column of the chart below:

  Weight tent 1 Weight tent 2
Tent Inner
Carry Bag
Total tent weight    

b. Put up your tent. (Leave about 5 m between tents so that pegs and tent parts don't get mixed up.)

c. Sketch your tent.

teenagers in a tent camping

2.a) Fill in the TENT 2 weights on your chart, using the measurements from the other group. Compare the weight of the components (parts) for the two tents. Note which parts are the heaviest and which are the lightest.

b) Compare and contrast the two designs. What do you notice about the different fabrics used? Would you and a friend fit comfortably inside? Look for the advantages and disadvantages of each tent. Which tent would you prefer to sleep in, and why?

c) Carefully pull down your tent. Return to class with the tent.

3. Write a brief description for a camping magazine about the features of both tents, including the advantages and disadvantages.

4. Use your imagination to design a lightweight tent suitable to carry, to store provisions and to sleep in. Say what types of fabric you would use and note any special design features you would include. Think about ventilation and where you would store your gear. Do a 3D drawing of your tent.

detail of a lightweight compact tent for camping

5. Sleeping bag race: This could be practised in the classroom. Teacher Note: Set clear boundaries of what is and is not allowed.

a) Imagine due to bad weather you are in a hurry to get into your sleeping bag. Use a stop-watch to time how long it takes you to unpack a sleeping bag and climb in.

b) The morning is clear and beautiful. You are in a hurry to get moving. Race again to get out and pack it completely into its bag.

Minimising your impact

6. a) In areas where campfires are permitted, why is it an offence to leave fires unattended? Give at least two reasons.

b) Give three reasons why you think campfires might not be permitted in some areas.

c) Why do campers need to take all rubbish home with them?

d) Design a set of imaginary rules for camping in your school ground.

Going further

As a class, plan an overnight camp in a national park, local bushland or on the school oval. Work out and list what needs to be organised, who needs to be contacted etc. In groups undertake preparation for trip.

See our web pages on Leave No Trace.