This is the first part of the Space Challenge activity.

Students will have to work as a team of scientists, to try and tackle one of the three challenges, selected by the moderator of the activity. 

Online activity: Students will work as a team to carry out their space mission, using smartphones and some simple objects that can be found in their homes.

In-person activity: A teamwork to carry out a space mission, using some simple objects that can be found either in their classrooms or around their homes.



Learning Objectives

  • To encourage students to work as a team to solve problems.
  • To understand what challenges space scientists may have to face.
  • To develop problem-solving skills.

Setting Details

This activity can be performed both online and in person. In both situations, a group of students work as a team to complete a challenge.

Online activity: Students will be able to connect from their home or school. A link to connect to the zoom meeting (or similar) will be given to the students and teachers before the event.

In-person activity: The activity takes place inside a theatre or school hall where students will be able to use tables and chairs to work.

Activity is carried out in 55 minutes.

Materials needed

Students can choose which challenge to accept from three: Growing seeds, Gears and mechanism, Soft landing activity. Or alternatively, a moderator could challenge the group has to solve 

Each activity has a different selection of materials that is required,  all of which should be easily available and are as follows:

Growing seeds materials:

  • cotton
  • glass jars
  • legume seeds
  • water
  • telephone

Gears and mechanism materials:

  • cardboard
  • boxes
  • flexible iron wire
  • bottle caps
  • glue
  • skewers
  • small pieces of polystyrene
  • twine
  • scotch tape
  • scissors
  • telephone

Soft landing materials:

  • boiled eggs (one per group)
  • straws
  • scotch tape
  • tissue paper
  • paper
  • twine
  • scissors
  • telephone


Click on the links below to access the supporting documents to be printed out and/or digitally available to carry out the activity:

Gears and mechanisms_ing

Soft landing activity_ing

Growing seeds_ing


Script/programme of activity

A scientific explainer/moderator will run the event and show the participants some introductory videos on various topics related to the challenges they will later be facing. These videos will demonstrate to the students discover some of the innovative solutions used to solve space science challenges in the past. 

Students are divided into groups; each group then has to choose one of the three challenges to try and solve.

Once the groups have chosen their challenges, They are given some time to conduct research on their selected problem. Then each group will have to record a short video, where they share what they have learnt about their problem. Students will have to include the following information in their video:

  1. the goal of the space mission, choosing who the sponsor of the mission is, such as:
  • a specific scientific lab
  • companies for a specific production
  • military applications
  • commercial and telecommunication services
  • space agency for space exploration
  1. the specific feature of the spacecraft that is needed to solve the problem, such as:
  • landing on the planet
  • landing on the ground
  • return ditching
  • heat shield
  • parachutes
  • rockets
  • pilot rockets
  • remote piloting
  1. equipment on board (at least one of the following) in relation to the goal of space mission

  • multispectral camera

  • thermal detector

  • water detector at all stages

  • radiation analyzer

  • atmosphere analyzer

  • sample analyzer

  1. the name of the space mission.

First Challenge: The “soft landing”

What happens when an astronaut lands? The Russians call it “soft landing”. But is it really? Give some sensations of what the landing really is like.

Today the challenge of achieving a safe landing is getting more difficult thanks to the new aims that humanity is giving itself.

Scientists have to face a number of practical problems, that need to be resolved by the new space missions team and the Artemis 1 program.

There is a team that works hard to ensure that the landing takes place in the best possible way.

In this activity, students will work together to ensure that nothing happens to their “astronaut”.

In the first phase, students will be explained how a spacecraft actually lands, look at the materials they have available to them, and what goal they hope to achieve.

Then, the group have to build their damping landing device that will hopefully ensure the safe return of their “astronaut”. The device and the “astronaut” are then launched. Will their “astronaut” survive the landing?  Students will have only one chance to find out.

Second Challenge: Gears and mechanisms

The team will have to build at least 5 different mechanisms that transform a simple rotation motion into another type of motion, using some blueprints as guidance but also using their inventiveness and imagination to create new mechanisms.

Third Challenge: Growing seeds

How do seeds grow? As true space scientists, your students will need to understand what effect gravity has on plants growth. The group have to germinate the seeds under various tests conditions. They could choose the type of seeds (lentils or beans) and germinate the seeds in damp cotton for four days and, once germinated, they have to separate sprouts into pairs, and test each couple of sprouts in a different environment, these include:

– leave a couple outdoors (reference seeds)

– a couple growing in the dark under the bed or inside a wardrobe (room without light)

– a couple growing in a closed pot (environment without exchange of atmosphere)

– a couple growing outdoors but after rotating the plant by 90 ° (environment with rotated gravity)

– a couple growing outdoors but after having rotated the plant 180 ° (environment with rotated gravity).

To document the challenge, students will need to take a photo every day of each couple of sprouts, to see what effect each of the conditions have on the plants.


Teachers will check that students’ groups are carrying out the challenge and they will collect the videos when students will have finished.

If the activity will be online, the zoom link to connect will be sent to the teacher and the students. 

Key elements for inclusivenes

The use of digital tools to carry out the activity will increase the involvement of the participants.


Extra information

For more information contact