Trophy Triathlon

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In this activity, learners are challenged to design and construct a trophy for prize-winning sports equipment. Learners explore such concepts as material properties, varied shape strengths, center of gravity, and structural design by building a "trophy" that can support either a tennis, soccer, or bowling ball. With only limited materials to work with, each team must build a tall trophy that is strong enough to balance their chosen ball. [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:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 18

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Conical spools (1)
  • Cardboard tubes, various sizes (1)
  • Interlocking plastic blocks (4)
  • Tennis, soccer and bowling (6#) balls
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard (less than 12” per side)
  • Straws
  • Thin, short dowels
  • Paper clips
  • Old CDs (e.g. AOL, etc.)
  • Pieces of sponge or foam
  • Masking tape (12 inches)
  • Other odds and ends


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Center of Gravity
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Mass and Weight
      • Volume and Density
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Research and Development
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Arts and Crafts
  • Sports and Exercise


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