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  • © Matthew Modoono

  • Design Challenges

    Participate in a hands-on activity to design, build, and test a prototype solution to a given problem.

    © Matthew Modoono


Drop-In Activity

Design Challenges

Think like an engineer! Participate in a hands-on activity to learn all about the engineering design process by designing, building, and testing a prototype solution to a given problem. Using familiar materials and design constraints, have a fun and engaging experience with engineering and innovation processes.

Please view the daily schedule for scheduled start times. Activities take on average 20 minutes to complete and are available for two hours from the start time.

Educators: Thinking about making Design Challenges part of your next field trip? To help us better accommodate your group during your field trip, please contact us at to discuss planning Design Challenges into your schedule.


Current activities in rotation include:

  • Create-A-Claw Design and build a mechanical claw to grab and pick up toys! Explore the challenges of mechanical design by creating your own arcade claw.
  • Echo Base Bobsleds Engineer a miniature bobsled to go as fast or slow as possible down a hill. Explore concepts such as friction and energy and their impact on acceleration.
  • Ewok Escape Create a device that will help an Ewok stay atop a cart as it travels down a wire. Explore center of mass, rigidity, and weight distribution as you adapt the device and try to make it as tall as possible.
  • Extreme Trampolines Engineer a miniature trampoline to make a ball bounce as high or as low as possible! Using different fabrics, elastics, and clips, explore concepts of energy transfer and symmetry.
  • Soaring Satellites Build a device that can float for at least five seconds in the marked area of one of our vertical wind tubes. Consider concepts of lift and weight as you work to improve your design.
  • Trophy Triathlon Create a trophy that is able to support and balance your chosen ball as high as possible. Building a structure to hold anything from a tennis ball to a bowling ball, compare material properties, center of gravity, and shape strength.
  • Mission: Mars Design and build a large, fully enclosed habitat for the surface of Mars that can collapse to fit inside a lander and self-deploy. Explore the tradeoffs faced by NASA engineers as you test your design and maximize the volume of your structure.



Approximately 20 minutes


Blue Wing, Lower Level. Find on map


Recommended for: Grades 4 – 10

Free with Exhibit Halls admission or membership. Purchase Exhibit Halls tickets:


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