Engineering design challenge: Crash test dummy

Engineers work to protect the public, and that includes keeping them safe in their cars. Mechanical engineers work with automotive factories to create cars that keep us as safe as possible on the road in the event of an accident. One of the ways that they do this is by creating crash test situations with dummies to see how the car is able to protect the passengers from injury and making adjustments to the design as needed.


Design a car that can perform an incredible stunt AND keep its passenger safe from falling out of the vehicle or the impact of the crash.


Special note: Remind participants that they should never attempt these stunts in real life! They are fun to design for toys, but you are not a crash test dummy and you should never risk your personal safety in the name of curiosity.

Instruct participants to use objects that can be found around the house to build their project (some examples are below).

We recommend using a ping pong ball (or other ball of similar size), covered in aluminum foil to see if there are any dents made when it crashes. 

Example materials

Instruct participants to use these or anything else they find around their house to work with:

  • Lego
  • Cardboard boxes
  • Elastics
  • Tape
  • Styrofoam
  • Old newspapers
  • Toy tracks
  • Plastic recycling