Zip Line

Source Institutions

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
In this design challenge activity, learners build a device to carry a Ping-Pong ball from the top of a zip line to the bottom in four seconds (or less!). Learners follow the design process to build the carrier that slides quickly down a zip line string, figure out how to keep something balanced, and identify ways to reduce friction.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$1 - $5 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • chipboard (from a cereal box or back of a notepad)
  • 2–4 small paper cups (i.e., 3-ounce)
  • Ping-Pong ball
  • 4 plastic straws
  • scissors
  • single-hole hole punch
  • 4 feet of smooth line (e.g., fishing line or unwaxed dental floss)
  • tape (duct or masking)
  • 4 standard, flat steel washers (1 inch in diameter or larger)
  • 4 wooden skewers


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Energy
      • Potential and Kinetic Energy
      • Energy and Power
      • Work and Machines
    • Motion and Forces
      • Gravity
      • Center of Gravity
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Transportation


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • be mobile
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Design Squad Nation


Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0810996