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Chair Lift Challenge

Lesson Focus 
The lesson focuses on unique challenges in transportation engineering, such as devising a method for skiers or hikers to get to the top of a mountain. Students work in teams to design a "chair lift" out of everyday items that can transport a ping pong ball in an open front cup from the bottom of a "valley" to the top of a "mountain" along a clothes line or wire without the ball falling out. Students design their chairlift on paper, execute their design, test it, reflect on the challenge, and share their experiences with the class.

Age Levels:

8 - 18
Objectives 
  • Learn about engineering design and redesign.
  • Learn how engineering can help solve society's challenges.
  • Learn about teamwork and problem solving.
Anticipated Learner Outcomes 

As a result of this activity, students should develop an understanding of:

  • civil engineering
  • engineering design
  • teamwork
Lesson Activities 

Students explore how engineers work to provide safe transportation options in different environments and climates. Students work in teams to construct a chair lift or system to move a tennis ball up a line from the valley of the floor to the mountain at the top of a chair. Teams build their system out of everyday materials, test their design, reflect on the experience, and share with the class.

Resources/Materials 
  • Teacher Resource Documents
  • Student Resource Sheet
  • Student Worksheet

Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks

Curriculum alignment sheet is included in PDF.


Alignment to Curriculum Frameworks
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