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Try This at Home


From Here to There

Are you ready for an engineering challenge?

How would you design and build a structure that can transfer a small ball between two points bridging a 6-foot gap?

There are challenges to this task: you can use less but not more of the suggested materials; the ball cannot be thrown; and once the ball is in motion, the set-up and the ball cannot be touched.

You will need:

  • Small balls of various mass and size
    (marbles, Styrofoam balls, etc.)
  • 5 sheets of paper
  • 5 paper clips
  • 5 rubber bands
  • 10 feet of string or yarn
  • 20 inches of tape (masking or painter's tape is best)
  • 2 pieces of furniture separated by a 6-foot distance
  • Scissors











(A "Try This at Home" engineering challenge using string paper clips, move small balls from Explora's newsletter, Explorations, Spring 2009)


Put a Spin on it!

How long or fast can you make a top spin?

You will need:

  • A variety of flat disks like a circle cut from a cereal box, cardboard, plastic yogurt lid or paper plate;
  • A variety of spindle-like objects like a pencil, marker, dowel or wooden skewer;
  • Scissors, nail or compass to poke holes;
  • Pennies and paper clips;
  • Rubber bands and tape;
  • Coloring markers/pencils (optional)

To create the top's disk, make a small hole in the center of a disk. You can then push a pencil or another spindle-like object partway through this hole for a snug fit. If the hole is too big, wrap rubber bands around the spindle or reinforce it with tape so the disk stays on the spindle. Now take it for a spin!

A "Try This at Home" build-your-own-spinning-tops project from Explora's newsletter, Explorations, Spring 2010

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