STEM Challenge Cargo Drops Rescue

Rated 5 out of 5, based on 20 reviews
20 Ratings
Teachers Are Terrific
Grade Levels
3rd - 5th
Formats Included
  • Zip
18 +editable
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Here’s another amazing STEM challenge based on a real life application! It’s a fabulous building event involving dropping fragile cargo! Your students will love the real aspect and scenario of this challenge and they will cheer loudly when their structures work! You will, too!

This challenge is available in money-saving bundles!

What is the challenge?

After learning some background information about cargo or air drops students will design a container for cargo and experiment with dropping the container from different heights. Students will follow the steps of the Engineering Design Process for this challenge. The package contains step-by-step procedures for the teacher that are clearly marked with the Design Process steps. The accompanying lab sheets for students are also marked. A great feature for this challenge is a step in which each student will spend time sketching and planning their own individual idea for the design and then write reasons his or her design is the best. This is followed by a discussion with other team members in which each student presents the idea and reasons. Each team then decides what the team design will be. The plan gives every student a voice in the final design.

Students will build the container for the fragile cargo, test it, revise it, and test again until the model works at the greatest height. After presenting the models students will have the opportunity to try a re-design!

What is your prep?

You will need supplies in addition to this package. This includes: cardboard pieces, 3 ounce cups, index cards, large marshmallows, rubber bands, straws, craft sticks, bubble wrap, masking tape, scissors, and hole punchers.

The package specifically includes:

  • Cover
  • Teacher background
  • Materials and preparation page
  • 6 pages of teacher directions
  • 1 page of information about Cargo Drops
  • Constraints list
  • 4 pages of photographs
  • 2 page lab sheet
  • Scoring rubric
  • File with all forms in an editable format
  • Sample student answer sheets are not included, but samples from student work are included in the teacher direction pages. The page count listed for this package includes everything.

This was a really fun challenge! Every student was involved in the revising and improving steps as they tried to keep that fragile cargo safe. Of course, their favorite part was dropping the containers and seeing if they worked!

This challenge works great with two more Rescue Challenges:

Or save money with the Rescue Bundle:


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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another. Examples of devices could include electric circuits that convert electrical energy into motion energy of a vehicle, light, or sound; and, a passive solar heater that converts light into heat. Examples of constraints could include the materials, cost, or time to design the device. Devices should be limited to those that convert motion energy to electric energy or use stored energy to cause motion or produce light or sound.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object. Assessment does not include quantitative measures of changes in the speed of an object or on any precise or quantitative definition of energy.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.


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