Zipline with Science Journal

What’s it like to be an amusement park engineer? In this design challenge, participants are tasked with creating a fun zipline experience. Their job is to create a model version of the transport vehicle for a zipline. However, like an engineer, participants must keep in mind that their experience can be fast, but it still needs to be stable, safe and enjoyable. Using Science Journal, an app that can use the sensors in everyday smartphones, participants can find out if their zipline ride can stand the test of amusement park guests.

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!

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

Chain Reaction II

Participants will use an assortment of items (mainly household items) to complete Rube Goldberg-type challenges.

Encourage guest to build a device that will complete a task through the use of chain reactions. Using basic physics concepts (inertia, gravity, force, motion) and common items, guests will build Rube Goldberg-type machines.

Paper Helicopters

Create a simple paper toy “helicopter” that spins as it falls.
This is a deceptively simple activity that lets you explore complex behavior of air and pressure. With a piece of paper, scissors and a few folds you can explore aerodynamics.


Bobsled racing combines science and engineering to design the most efficient sled. Participants will explore friction, gravity, and air resistance and their impact on acceleration.
Working individually or in small groups, visitors use recycled materials to design, build, and test their bobsled on our 8-foot long bobsled track. Get a first-hand experience of the design process that scientists and engineers undergo by conceptualizing the problem, designing and testing a prototype, and making modifications as necessary to optimize the solution.
The goal of this challenge is to create a miniature bobsled that is either as fast or as slow as possible. Start with one bobsled base – ours are the trays used to package pipette tips; if you’re going to try this at home, you could use soap dishes.

Ready Set Fly

Inspired by Flugtag, the human-powered flying machine event, we turned our Hands-On Science Workshop into a flying machine shop where you’ll get to learn all about the forces of flight, build your own flying machines, and test them out on our human-powered launcher.


Inflatables is an open-ended design activity that focuses on 3D spatial reasoning. In this activity, learners use recycled materials and simple tools to create inflatable creatures or sculptures. This activity is adaptable for a wide range of age. For example, older learners can make and test complex creations, while younger learners are happy with decorating a small bag and then launching it off the fan.