Soaring Satellites

Working individually or in small teams, students try to build a satellite that can float for at least five seconds in the marked area of a vertical wind tubes. Using simple materials, students explore the concepts of lift and weight as they test and redesign their prototype.

Ships Ahoy!

Using simple, colorful, and recycled materials, students design and build a model vessel to achieve the optimal use of wind power. Find a hull and sail configuration that moves across our water track in the fastest time, or carries the largest cargo of treasure. This is a fun, hands-on activity that reinforces the engineering design cycle. Students can apply their knowledge and understanding of wind power, buoyancy, displacement, friction, and lift to their sailboat design.

Dowels and Rubber Bands I

Kids build structures with 3-foot dowels and rubber bands. There are many ways to build and to make things stand up, but making things stable is not a trivial task. You can make things that are very big – even big enough for several children to get inside

Happy City

Happy City is a design activity exploring circuits, conductivity and community. Kids add things to a city model to make it a happier place, using LEDs, batteries and motors (optional) to make their creations do something. Since the kids decide for themselves what would make the city a happy place, they become invested in what they’re making and how it will work. This kind of problem-defining and problem-solving is at the heart of engineering design. The activity can inspire great conversations about electricity or community.


If you were stranded in a remote location, what problems would you face? What would you make to help solve one of those problems? Designers need to think deeply about the problems they are trying to solve. And, they often have to make do with a limited set of materials. This activity asks students to detail a compelling problem and solve it with what they have on hand.

Shadow Puppets

Using index cards, brass fasteners and wooden skewers, children make jointed shadow puppets.

Duct Tape Activity

Using the handyman’s secret weapon, collaborate with or encourage participants to build a unique creation out of one simple material, duct tape.Take risks with limited resources. Explore creativity; embrace the challenges of the materials and collaborate with other to create something original out of duct tape.

Paper Circuits

Using self-adhesive tape made from conductive copper, create a working light circuit on plain paper, or incorporate electronic elements into art, games, or paper crafts.

Paper Plane Croquet

Participants build a paper airplane that they will use to complete different challenges in the ‘croquet’ course that has been set up using assorted items available.


Visitors will challenge their creativity and dexterity to build tiny robot-esque creations using small, recycled materials.
Limiting materials to a few repetitive parts forces visitors to think laterally about material use (“if all I have are screws and capacitors, how can I transform them into all the different parts that I need?” Rather than, “this part already looks like an arm, so I’ll use it as an arm” ) while restricting the size of the creations encourages visitors to invest extra thought and care into detailed objects they can hold in one hand. Up close and personal = detailed and intimate!