## Materials

Substitutions can be made for almost any of these materials:

• 1 to 2 small pieces of cardboard scissors
• small cup
• small ball
• tape
• plastic shopping bag
• string or yarn
• index cards
• straws
• cotton balls
• rubber band

## Instructions

1. Identify the Problem
• The most critical step of any engineering challenge is to understand the problem you are trying to solve.
• The two problems you are trying to solve is slowing the descent of your lander and absorbing the energy of impact when your lander touches the ground.
• How might you slow your lander down?
• Explore how parachutes work. A canopy is the part of the parachute that fills with air. Air trapped in the canopy slows the fall of a parachute because of air resistance, or the force of the air pushing against the canopy.
• How can you lessen the impact on your lander when it hits the ground?
• Hint: Think about shock absorbers. They are used to absorb the energy of the impact when gravity slams something into the ground.
• Springs are a good shock absorbers. What is it about their shape that helps them absorb impact?
2. Collect Materials
• Start collecting materials for your lander.
• Don’t have all of the items on the list? That’s okay – you don’t need all of them. Look around and see if there are other materials you can use instead or do without.
• Don’t have a small ball? Can you make one out of tinfoil?
3. Brainstorm Designs
• Review the challenge and the problems you are trying to solve.
• Look at your materials. Which ones can help you soften the cup’s landing? How might you create a parachute to slow the lander’s fall?
4. Build It
• Start building! If possible, take pictures of the materials as you build. Maybe one at the beginning, one during the process, and one at the end.
• When you are finished building, make a prediction. Will your lander stay upright from a 1-foot drop? A 2-foot drop? A 3-foot drop?
5. Test It
• Test your lander! Start with a 1-foot drop. Did it work? Then see how far a distance it can be dropped before it fails.
6. Share Results