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In this design challenge activity, learners build a machine out of cardboard that runs smoothly and dependably. Learners must be precise to make sure their component works properly. This activity introduces learners to how engineers develop machines and systems that make work easier and more cost efficient.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Model

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • Chart paper
  • Marker
  • Tape (masking or duct)
  • 1 wooden skewer
  • Scissors
  • Ruler and pencil
  • Corrugated cardboard


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
    • Number and Operations
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
    • Science as a Career
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Impacts of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Design Squad Nation


Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0810996