Engineering design challenge: Ferris wheel fun

Engineers and geoscientists play an important part in protecting the public, including building safe amusement park rides! Now that sounds like fun. They have to think about which construction materials to use and the forces that will be acting on the seats, the spokes, and the ground. Engineers also have to figure out how to make it spin in a circle without using too much energy. In this challenge, you’re going to act as the engineer and design your own ferris wheel!


Build a spinnable ferris wheel out of objects found around the house, including the wheel, spokes, and seats.


Instruct participants to use objects they can find around the house to create their miniature amusement park ride (some examples are below).

We recommend making sure that the wheel can spin freely before adding weight to it in the form of seats. Participants may need a couple of tries to get that part of the construction right.

Example materials

Instruct participants to use these or any other materials they find around their house to work with:

  • Uncooked pasta
  • Craft sticks
  • Toothpicks
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic recycling
  • Metal cans
  • String