Unit Overview

Youth design a shuttle to land a rope near a person who needs a rescue.

  • Grades 3-5
  • Setting: Out of school
  • 9 activities
  • 45–60 minutes per activity

Unit Map

Youth engineer a school supply case and learn about the Engineering Design Process, a 5-phase problem-solving tool.
Youth are introduced to the rescue workers’ problem, model shuttles, and launchers. They explore how shuttle length and material affect flight distance.

Youth explore how fins, weights, and weight placement affect flight distance.

Youth imagine, plan, and create a rescue shuttle that lands in an assigned target rescue zone.
Youth test and improve their rescue shuttles.
Youth design a bag that attaches to the user to keep its contents dry during a water rescue simulation.
Youth use what they know about rescue shuttle design to engineer another aeronautical technology­­—a glider.
Youth learn careers and people who design and/or use aeronautical or rescue technologies.
Youth present their rescue shuttles and share their process with guests.

Educator Preparation Videos

Model Shuttle

Shuttle Launch

(optional) Station A

(optional) Station B

(optional) Station C

(optional) Station D

(optional) Station E

Our funders

Major support for this project has been provided by the National Science Foundation.

Rescue shuttle icon

What’s Included?

  • Educator Guide (PDF)
  • Optional Educator Slides (Google Slides)
  • Youth Engineering Notebook (PDF)
  • Illustrated Story (Poster or PDF)
  • Print Materials (PDF)