Ninja Walk with Science Journal

Can you move as smoothly and silently as a Ninja? In this experiment, participants will use their stealthy Ninja skills to move through a noisy obstacle course while wearing a smartphone. They must figure out how to navigate around obstacles with the sound sensor and accelerometers detecting as little motion and sound as possible.

Toy Top with Science Journal

You’ve played with fidget spinners and spinning tops, but have you ever designed them? In this design challenge, participants will develop and test their very own spinning toy! Toy designers and engineers get to play with their toys, but they also need a scientific way to figure out how to make it most fun. Use everyday materials to build a spinning toy, then test it using the accelerometer sensors found in smartphones!

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.

Dive into Design

Learn how to engage your students in the engineering design process through participation in hands-on design challenges. Staff will experience two mini design challenges related to The Tech Challenge 2015 on Seismic Engineering. All staff will leave with two age-appropriate design challenges they can use at their site(s) and the option of taking their creation. Come build your own solutions and see how much fun this would be to do with students of all ages and backgrounds.

The Challenge: Build a skyscraper that has limited roof drift.

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.

Magnus Glider

This is a fun alternative to paper airplanes. It demonstrates the “Magnus” effect.

This is the effect that makes a ball curve in baseball with a curveball pitch. When the ball is thrown, it is also

spun. With the Magnus glider you create a glider from taping two foam or paper cups together, then wind a

long rubber band around them that will be released when you pitch your glider model forward. This spins the

cups while you are throwing them. This tends to make the glider move slightly away from the direction you