Soaring Satellites

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Working in small teams, learners try to build a satellite that can float for at least five seconds in the marked area of a vertical wind tube. Learners think about and explore the concepts of lift and weight as they try to adapt their satellite to hover between the lines. [Activity is publicly available through a web crawler capture on]

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Straws
  • K’Nex axles
  • Plastic disposable pipettes
  • Wooden sticks
  • Domed lids
  • Paper cone cups
  • Film canisters
  • Fun foam shapes
  • Cut pool noodles
  • Plastic clips
  • Laminated paper people or cargo
  • Vertical wind tubes for testing


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Aerospace Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
    • States of Matter
      • Gases
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Model Building


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, 2010

Funding Sources:

  • The Gordon Foundation
  • Volunteer Service League, Museum of Science Boston