Sort It Out!

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In this activity, learners explore how engineers have developed sorting systems which integrate into manufacturing and packaging processes. Learners explore how coins are made. Then, learners work in teams to design and build a sorting system for different coin sizes or weights. Learners make predictions and evaluate the strategies employed and results achieved by all "engineering" teams.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Student Resource Sheets
  • Student Worksheets
  • Bag of coins of different sizes
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Paper or plastic plates
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors or hole punch
  • Wood (optional)
  • Foil
  • Paper
  • Cardboard tubes (such as from paper towel or toilet paper rolls)
  • One sample of each coin to be sorted
  • Collection device (paper cup, small box, plastic bag, paper bag)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Manufacturing Engineering
    • Technology
      • Manufacturing
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science as a Career
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Financial Literacy


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • 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:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, IEEE,