Kick Stick Challenge

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In this design challenge activity, learners investigate series circuits and motors to build a hand-held "kick stick." Their goal is create a battery-operated device that sends a Ping-Pong ball across the floor. The activity is a fun, hands-on way for learners to get a taste for the design process. This lesson guide includes instructions on how to introduce the challenge, associated videos, brainstorming questions, and tips for learners.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
45 to 60 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • 3-volt motor (the kind with gear attached to shaft)
  • AA battery in a battery holder
  • cardboard
  • rubber faucet washer (3⁄4-inch or larger)
  • paper clips
  • duct tape
  • wire strippers
  • aluminum foil
  • 2 craft sticks
  • hook-up wire (e.g.22-gauge, stranded
  • paint stirrer
  • Ping Pong ball
  • scissors


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electric Motors
      • Electric Circuits
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Electronics
  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • 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