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?

Your mission

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


You should use objects you can find around the house to build your project (some examples are below).

Try to make your space tool as creative and user friendly as possible. In your video demonstrate how it does picking up lots of different objects to see how versatile it is. Think about how reduced gravity in space would effect your ability to hold an object in your tool.

Example materials

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

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

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