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In this activity, learners are challenged to design and build the tools they need to survive being shipwrecked on a deserted island. Working in small teams, learners rely on their creativity to design survival tools using the materials provided in their "supplies crate." Learners have fun working in a team, brainstorming, innovating, and being creative. Learners create a protective shelter, a method for gathering food, and a signal for help. Once they come up with their designs, the teams test them out for feasibility before having a "design review". [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Wooden Crate
  • Shower Curtain
  • Small Fleece Blanket
  • Plastic Sand Toy (e.g., a rake)
  • Camping Clothesline
  • Two Feet of Aluminum Foil
  • Pipette Holders
  • Ice Tray
  • Plastic Tie Rack
  • Cardboard Tube
  • Bungee Cords
  • Rope (3 lengths)
  • Fresnel Lens
  • Scrap Paper
  • Map of the Island


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Historical Reenactment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • , Museum of Science, Boston, 2005

Funding Sources:

  • The Gordon Foundation
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services