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Cricket Wicket Knockdown Challenge for Grades 3-5


Grade Range
Group Size
2-4 students
Active Time
2-3 hours
Total Time
2-3 hours
Area of Science
Engineering Challenge
Key Concepts
Engineering Design
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies

This engineering challenge is based on an internal competition designed by employees at Fluor Corporation.

Cricket Wicket Knockdown: 2020 Engineering Challenge


Teach your students about the engineering design process with this fun lesson plan. They will design and build a ball-launching machine to knock down a target. Optionally, they can enter their designs in the 2020 Engineering Challenge for a chance to win a cash prize for your school! Teachers, note that middle school and high school versions of this lesson plan are also available.

Learning Objectives

NGSS Alignment

This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards Performance Expectations:
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:

Science & Engineering Practices
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Make observations and/or measurements to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.
Disciplinary Core Ideas
ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. Tests are often designed to identify failure points or difficulties, which suggest the elements of the design that need to be improved.

PS2.A: Forces and Motion. Each force acts on one particular object and has both strength and a direction. An object at rest typically has multiple forces acting on it, but they add to give zero net force on the object. Forces that do not sum to zero can cause changes in the object's speed or direction of motion. (Boundary: Qualitative and conceptual, but not quantitative addition of forces are used at this level.)

PS2.B: Types of Interactions. Objects in contact exert forces on each other.
Crosscutting Concepts
Cause and Effect. Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain change.


If you want to enter your device in the 2020 Engineering Challenge, you can only use the materials listed below. Each item has a maximum allowable quantity and a point cost (each) that will be deducted from your score. Note that you can cut the materials, but costs are not prorated; e.g., if you cut a piece of paper in half and only use half of it, it still costs 10 points.

Construction Materials
Item Maximum Quantity Point cost (each)
Cardboard (max size 12"x12" or 30x30 cm) 1 10
2 oz paper or plastic cup 10 3
Wooden craft sticks (4 ½" or 11.5 cm) 10 1
Wooden pencils (circular or hexagonal cross-section, approx. 7–8" or 18–20 cm length) 10 1
Paper (printer/copier paper, not construction paper or cardstock; letter or A4 size) 10 1
Rubber bands (size 32, 3" long unstretched and 1/8" wide) 10 2
Cardboard tube (1 unit = 1 paper towel roll or 2 toilet paper rolls) 2 units 9 per unit
Roll of clear adhesive tape (Scotch® tape or equivalent, 1/2" or 3/4" width, max length 500") 1 10
Duct tape (up to 90 feet total, no more than 2" wide) 90 feet 20 (if any used)
Tools and Testing Materials (no point cost)
Ping pong ball 1  
Ruler or measuring tape 1  
Scissors 1  
2 oz paper or plastic cup 1 Used to build the wicket

Wooden pencils 2
Rubber or plastic eraser (approximately 2"x1"x1/2") 1
Modeling clay, Play Doh®, or homemade dough. Enough to fill the 2 oz cup halfway
Table 1. Materials allowed for the 2020 Engineering Challenge.

Background Information for Teachers

This section contains a quick review for teachers of the science and concepts covered in this lesson.

In this lesson, your students will use readily available craft and office supplies to build a device that will launch a ping pong ball at a target to try and knock it down (the target is called a wicket, inspired by the game of cricket). If you have not already, watch this video for an introduction to the challenge. If you want to enter your students' designs in the 2020 Engineering Challenge, make sure you review the official materials and rules before you begin.

Optionally, you can link this challenge to other science or engineering topics in your classroom.

  • Engineering design: use this lesson to teach your students about the process of designing, building, testing, and iterating (changing the design to improve it based on the results of testing, then testing again).
  • Forces: you can use this lesson to talk about balanced and unbalanced forces (e.g. what causes the eraser to remain balanced? What causes it to fall?), and the forces between objects that are in contact with each other (e.g. the ping pong ball when it collides with something).

Prep Work (15 minutes)

Engage (5 minutes)

Explore (90 minutes)

Reflect (30 minutes)


Make Career Connections

Lesson Plan Variations

Free science fair projects.