Engineering design challenge: Space tool

Engineers and geoscientists get to design and create items that are used all over the world—and even outside of our atmosphere! In space, astronauts may use tools that allow them to pick things up more easily from a distance and when their space suits limit their ability to grab objects with their hands. Engineers need to consider constraints and make sure that tools are reliable in all types of environments. Think about how you could use a tool to pick up an item that’s far away—could you use barbecue tongs? What about something with a suction cup?


Participants will create a tool that they could use to pick up an object about the size of a ping pong ball that is 1 metre away from them on the ground. They can’t bend over, and they're wearing a ski glove or mitten to reduce mobility, like a space suit!


Instruct participants to use objects they can find around the house to build their project (some examples are below).

Try to make the space tool as creative and user friendly as possible. Try picking up lots of different objects to see how versatile it is. How would reduced gravity in space affect the tool's ability to hold an object?

Example materials

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

  • Paper tubes
  • Plastic forks
  • Barbecue tongs
  • String
  • Elastics
  • Tape
  • Cardboard
  • Plastic or metal recycling