Mitten Challenge

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In this activity, learners try to put together toy bricks—wearing oven mitts on their hands! This activity shows learners how difficult it is to build small things when your tools are too big. This is a great activity to get learners thinking about how scientists and engineers need special tools and equipment to work at the nanoscale. A great complement to this activity is "Exploring Tools: Special Microscopes," (see related resource) in which learners discover different tools scientists use to explore and manipulate nanoscale objects.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Lego® or Duplo® type building blocks
  • Oven mitts


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
    • Technology
  • Mathematics
    • Measurement
      • Units of Measurement
      • Size and Scale

Informal Categories

  • Toys


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • 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



  • All rights reserved, Sciencenter, 2012

Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0532536
  • National Science Foundation, 0940143