Substitutions can be made for almost any of these materials:
- paper towel tubes
- rubber bands
- paper clips
- plastic wrap
- paper & pens
- bendable wire
- small bouncy ball
- Identify the Problem
- The most critical step of any engineering challenge is to understand the problem you are trying to solve.
- The problem you are trying to solve is to make a racket out of everyday materials that reliably and accurately hits a target.
- Collect Materials
- Start collecting materials for your racket.
- 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.
- Brainstorm Designs
- Look at pictures of a tennis racket online. What do you notice about them? Why do rackets have mesh (crossed strings) instead of a solid surface?
- Did you know that the crossed strings of a tennis racket create an elastic surface that moves slightly with the ball? Rackets with higher tension (less elastic strings) gives a player more control on where the ball goes. Rackets with lower tension (more elastic strings) gives the player more power to make the ball go farther or faster.
- As you design your racket, think about:
- How fine or loosely spaced should the weave of your mesh be?
- What materials can you make the mesh out of? Try out different materials.
- How can you attach the mesh to your racket frame so it doesn’t pull apart when you the hit the ball?
- Does the surface area of your mesh matter? Why or why not?
- What’s the best thickness for the handle?
- 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.
- Test It
- How far you can hit a ball with your racket?
- Make a target. Tape a piece of paper of paper to a wall or door. Can you hit the target?
- Add a bullseye to your target – can you hit that?
- Do you have a partner to play with? Can you volley a ball back and forth with your rackets?
- Share Results
- Share your results and your design with your teacher or parents.
- Did it work like you thought it would?
- What design changes would you make?
- Make Changes and Try Again!
Activity courtesy of TryEngineering.org