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.

Your mission

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


You should use objects you can find around the house to obtain your core sample (some examples are below).

We recommend that your 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

You can use these or any other materials you find around your house to work with:

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

Share some pictures of your creation online using the #NEM2021 or #NEGM2021 hashtag!