Principal Investigator:

This program is designed to help students in grades 6-9 learn math and science through carrying out hands-on engineering activities in their classrooms. Students are engaged in design situations similar to those faced by NASA engineers. The challenges develop the skills of careful observation, data collection and analysis, problem-solving, and communication.

Educator guides provide detailed background for teachers, comprehensive suggestions for teaching, and day-by-day lesson plans. The guides include materials for teachers, students, and parents; and provide career information and web site links for further investigation.

Thermal Protection Systems Challenge
Students are challenged to design a heat shield from simple materials, test it, and re-design it to improve its performance, while learning about heat transfer and insulation.

Spacecraft Structures Challenge
To learn principles of design and of static and dynamic forces, students use simple materials to build a lightweight engine thrust structure strong enough to launch a bottle rocket.

Electrodynamic Propulsion Systems Challenge
NASA engineers are devising a system that uses the Earth's natural magnetism to push satellites into higher and lower orbits around the planets using an electronic conducting wire or "tether." Students will try to move a model "satellite" along a track using their own design with a specific set of materials.

Propeller Design Challenge
The centennial of the Wright brothers' first flight is the context for this new challenge. It uses hands-on scientific inquiry and observation to help students explore concepts such as propulsion, motion, energy transfer, and technological design.

Available at no cost at