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What Goes Up Must Come Down Engineering Challenge

Grade Level Grades 3-5
Resource Type Activity, Handout
Standards Alignment
Next Generation Science Standards


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  • Materials
    • Match Box Cars
    • Track
    • Books
    • Clay
    • Meter Stick

Students use the materials above to design a system in which they release their car down the track so that it stops at exactly one meter past the end of the track (or as close as they can get it.)

  • Students should be given a certain amount of time to test and revise their systems.
  • The purpose of this activity is two-fold: discover and identify what it is that engineers do, and begin to explore concepts of energy and speed
  • Have students visit Answer Garden (link below) or similar website or a Google Doc and add their thoughts to the following question. "What steps did you take to complete this engineering challenge?"
  • Lead them in a discussion to discover the steps that engineers take when solving a problem. Make an Anchor Chart or a Word Wall displaying these steps. (list of engineering steps below)
  • Ask students to answer this prompt in the link below that will lead to a discussion about the laws of motion.


Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.


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