Engineering design challenge: Sandwich sample

Engineers and geoscientists play an important part in protecting the public, and our environment here on earth! This challenge is based on core sampling—a key piece of earth science and geological engineering. Core sampling is when special tools are used to take a small subsection of the earth from the ground, so that we can examine the different layers of the core. This allows them to better understand and work with the earth in the place that they’ve taken the sample.


Create a tool that allows participants to take a sample of a sandwich and examine the different layers. Participants cannot touch the sandwich while they are taking the sample!


Instruct participants to use objects they can find around the house to obtain their core sample (some examples are below).

We recommend that the sandwich have at least two layers other than the bread, like peanut butter and jelly, or ham and cheese. Experiment with different sizes of samples – is it easier to take a larger diameter sample or a smaller one?

Example materials

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

  • Straws
  • Pliers
  • Child-safe knives
  • Cookie cutters
  • Water bottles
  • Craft Sticks