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!

Using Science Journal

Science Journal is a free app designed by Making & Science, an initiative by Google. It allows you to gather data about the world around you by harnessing the sensors in your smartphone. The Tech Museum of Innovation uses Science Journal to hone our ninja skills, explore the sounds around us, test our reflexes and much more.  Watch this video, and then check out the other Data Science activities that use Science Journal: Toy Top, Ninja Walk, and Zipline Descent.

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.

One-Cut Paper Stars

Take a full sheet of letter-sized paper and fold it. Then with just one snip of a scissors unfold that same piece of paper and you have a five-pointed star! We like this activity as it introduces the idea of using specific paper folds to create the silhouettes of almost any shape (polygon) with one cut of a pair of scissors. Harry Houdini, the famous magician; describe this “trick” in his 1922 book titled Paper Magic. There are also historical references to Betsy Ross who created the design of the United States flag with its unique 5-pointed stars.Origami mathematics s the study of the geometry of origami. The practical goal of this activity is to engage learners in the material exploration of geometry through origami and paper-cutting.