Rescue Mission

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In this hands-on activity, learners use the steps of the design process to create a hook to rescue a "space capsule" from the water. Participants design, build, test and redesign their own model pieces of equipment to help them retrieve the floating objects. This activity also fits well with lessons on invention.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Game

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)

  • 3 film canisters with snap-on lids
  • Pot, bucket, or dishpan
  • Paperclips
  • 12-inch length of thread
  • Towels
  • Plasticine, clay, or poster putty


  • Earth and Space Science
    • Astronomy
      • Probes, Satellites and Spacecraft
  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Model Building
  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Foreign language versions of this resource:

Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • WGBH

Source Collection

  • Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman


Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation, 0452485
  • Public Television Viewers
  • The Arthur Vining Davis Foundation
  • Arby's
  • Greendog