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Cricket Wicket Knockdown Challenge for Grades 9-12

Summary

Grade Range
9th-12th
Active Time
2-3 hours
Total Time
2-3 hours
Area of Science
Physics
Key Concepts
Engineering Design
Credits
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
Cricket Wicket Knockdown: 2020 Fluor Engineering Challenge

Overview

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 Fluor Engineering Challenge for a chance to win a cash prize for your school! Teachers, note that elementary school and middle school versions of this lesson plan are also available, as is a Spanish language version of the basic challenge.

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 Disciplinary Core Ideas Crosscutting Concepts
Science & Engineering Practices Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Plan an investigation or test a design individually and collaboratively to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence as part of building and revising models, supporting explanations for phenomena, or testing solutions to problems. Consider possible confounding variables or effects and evaluate the investigation's design to ensure variables are controlled.

Apply scientific ideas, principles, and/or evidence to provide an explanation of phenomena and solve design problems, taking into account possible unanticipated effects.
Disciplinary Core Ideas ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions. When evaluating solutions, it is important to take into account a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, and to consider social, cultural, and environmental impacts. (HS-ETS1-3)
Crosscutting Concepts Structure and Function. Investigating or designing new systems or structures requires a detailed examination of the properties of different materials, the structures of different components, and connections of components to reveal its function and/or solve a problem.

Materials

If you want to enter your device in the 2020 Fluor 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)
ItemQuantityNotes
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 Fluor 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 Fluor Engineering Challenge, make sure you review the official materials and rules before you begin.

This challenge allows you to explore some interesting topics in physics and engineering. Rather than explain these topics in detail, this background section will give you a brief overview of each one, and you can decide which, if any, to address with your students. There is more information about these topics in the Additional Background section.

  • Simple machines: use the project to learn about simple machines like the lever and the inclined plane. How can simple machines be combined to form a more complex machine that can launch a ball?
  • Projectile motion is a classic topic in physics classes. How do the initial velocity and launch angle of the ball affect its range? What trajectory (i.e. a high, steep trajectory or a low, shallow trajectory) makes it easier to catch the ball?
  • Energy is another classic physics topic. The ball needs kinetic energy, the energy of motion, to fly through the air. Where will that energy come from? It could come from elastic potential energy, the energy stored in a stretched material, like a rubber band. It could come from gravitational potential energy, the energy stored in an object that is raised up off the ground. Or, the energy could come from work that you do with your hand by exerting a force.
  • Conservation of momentum is yet another topic typically covered in physics classes. An object's momentum is equal to the product of its mass and its velocity. When two objects collide, their total momentum is conserved. Your students can examine what happens when the light, fast-moving ping pong ball collides with the heavy, stationary eraser.
  • Engineering design: you can also use this project to walk your students through the engineering design process. They probably will not build a perfect machine on their first try. Instead, they will need to iteratively test and redesign their launcher/receiver in order to improve the design.

Prep Work (10 minutes)

Engage (5 minutes)

Explore (90 minutes)

Reflect (30 minutes)

Assess

Make Career Connections

Lesson Plan Variations

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