STEM Activity: Out-of-Control Fun
Use clean recyclables, cardboard and old toys or toy parts to construct a unique obstacle course for a remote control toy.
- Cardboard (e.g., cereal boxes, packaging)
- Recyclables (e.g., water bottles, clean milk jugs, oatmeal or coffee canisters)
- Remote control toy
- Toy parts and pieces
- Writing and drawing materials (e.g., markers, paper, pencils)
- Use available writing or coloring utensils to design and sketch a course on paper. Don’t forget to think of an exciting name for it.
- Gather materials and start building the course you designed! Test obstacles, make observations and adjustments along the way, and rebuild as necessary.
- Arrange the final course and run the remote control toy through it!
- How did it work? What could be done to improve the course for future runs?
Need some ideas? Consider using recyclables to create:
- Dance floor
- Goal lines or boxes
- Ice skating rink
Educators: Use this activity in the classroom with these modifications!
Have the class work as a team to build the ultimate course. Encourage students to design specific tasks for the toy to perform, such as pushing a small ball along a path or carrying a small cup full of beads over a bridge without spilling it. Include a discussion about how simple machines (e.g., inclined planes and levers) might be (or are) used throughout the course.
What are we learning?
Besides uncovering old and forgotten toys, this activity offers exercises in design thinking, mechanical and civil engineering, problem solving and iteration. It also provides an opportunity for children to explore controllers and wireless communication as well as simple machines. This activity is a fun way to explore building, experimenting and modifying, which are all important parts of the innovation experience!