Kicking Machine

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In this design challenge activity, learners build a machine that kicks a Ping-Pong ball into a cup lying on its side 12 inches away. Learners use a pendulum, a rubber band, or a combination of the two to do this and test the accuracy of their machines by shooting a Ping-Pong ball into a cup. Educators can use this activity to demonstrate simple machines and kinetic/potential energy. This activity can be followed up with "Extreme Kicking Machine" which adds an even greater challenge into the mix.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • Balls (Ping-Pong and golf)
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Paper clips
  • Paper cups
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Rubber bands
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Tape (masking or duct)
  • Thin metal wire (optional)
  • Wooden skewers


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
      • Energy and Power
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Machines
      • Gravity
      • Projectile Motion
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • 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