Virtual Instant Challenge: Object Removal

It’s time for another virtual STEAM activity! Gather the materials and a group of friends and/or family members together online to do this challenge. Your task will be to build a device (or multiple devices) out of a set of materials and use the devices to remove objects from the top of cans. You will not know ahead of time what you will be scored on.

Challenge: Using the materials below, remove objects from the tops of cans.

Set-up: Tape a 24 in x 48 in (60cm x 120cm) rectangle on the floor. Inside the rectangle and close to the center, place five empty cans upside down or five unopened cans of food. Gather 5 objects of different shapes and sizes and place 1 on top of each can. Examples of objects: a basketball, a plastic cup, a fork, a golf ball, a stuffed animal, etc. OR five balls of different sizes.

Procedure: Using the materials below, create a device or devices that will allow you to remove the objects from the taped area.

  • You cannot knock over the cans.
  • No part of your body may cross over the taped line.
  • The objects may NOT touch the floor until they have crossed over the taped line.

Materials: 2 plastic spoons, 2 12in (30cm) pieces of string, 2 rulers, 1 sheet of newspaper, 4 straws, 4 chenille sticks, 4 rubber bands, 1 12 in (30cm) piece of foil, 1 plastic sandwich bag, 1 pair of tongs.
None of the objects, cans, rulers, or tongs may be damaged.

Time: 15 minutes total to create your device(s) and remove the objects

Scoring: Scoring for this challenge should be accessed only by someone who is not participating in the challenge, such as a friend, parent, Team Manager, etc. After the group has completed the challenge, have that person read each of the scored elements. Have one of your group members keep track of everyone’s score. After tallying up the scores, go through the Reflection Questions to talk about the experience as a group. Click here to download the Scoring and Reflection Questions for this challenge.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What were the best materials for building your device?
  2. What technique did you use to keep from crossing the taped line?
  3. Which objects were the easiest to remove from the rectangle without them touching the floor?


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