Invention Convention

Questacon Invention Convention

Don't just use the latest technology- create it!

Students learning robotics at an Invention Convention

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Find out about Australian inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Taj Pabari, founder of Fiftysix Creations, works with a student

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Make at Questacon in Canberra

Landing Challenge Workshop Resource

What to expect at the workshop

You’ve just put the finishing touches on your million dollar rooftop garden, now where will you park your quadcopter? Students will use smart devices to design and test simple support structures, while investigating tensile and compressive forces on materials. They will then apply their newly gained skills in engineering and design to build a prototype landing platform using little more than a manila folder.

Resources and requirements

  • Access to a flexible double classroom
  • 8 trestle tables
  • 30 chairs
  • Supervising teacher

All tools and materials will be supplied. Running time: 90 minutes



Introduction to the innovation process, Samsung tablets and the Bridge Constructor app.

Activity 1: Bridge Constructor app

Pairs of students are given a Samsung tablet containing the application Bridge Constructor Playground and encouraged to complete bridge building challenges, exploring different materials and structures as they go. Bridge Constructor Playground is available for free or for $2.49 (advertisement free) from the Google Play Store.


They are encouraged to continually test and refine their designs, minimising their use of materials whilst maintaining bridge strength.

Activity 2: physical platform build

In pairs, students are then set the challenge of constructing a prototype landing platform for a quadcopter drone using a prescribed set of simple materials. They will apply their understanding of forces and materials from the app in their prototype design.


Students stress-test their designs using a test weight.


A demonstration from each group showcasing and testing their platform. Each group will be asked to reflect on their platform design:

  • Which elements are under compression? Which are under tension?
  • Identify strong and weak points
  • How would you improve those weaknesses given more time/resources?


Class discussion:

  • How would your designs perform at a larger scale?
  • Would you approach the challenge differently next time?




Contrary to popular belief, Thomas Edison didn't "invent" the light bulb. He is known for this life changing invention because he improved upon a 50-year-old idea and made it accessible for everyone to use. This process of building on ideas to create something new is called innovation.

We all have the tools we need to be innovative; problem solving, creativity, maths, science and technology, but it’s how we use these tools that can make the difference between having an idea and doing something with it.

The process of need, think, make, try, refine is at the heart of any design or engineering feat. These stages don’t follow a set pattern or order, but arise naturally from the exploration of new ideas. It can be useful to think about each of these stages as you work on your own designs.

  • Does your idea address your need?
  • Can you think of a new or better approach to solve your problem?
  • Can you make a prototype?
  • Try out your prototype – does it do what it’s supposed to?
  • How can you refine your design to make it better?

Curriculum Links: Landing Challenge

Science Curriculum

Science Inquiry Skills Strand
This workshop’s activities relates to Science Inquiry Skills across all years by encouraging:

  • Questioning and predicting
  • Planning and conducting
  • Processing and analysing data and information
  • Evaluating
  • Communicating

Science Understanding Strand

This activity links to Physical sciences units in the Science Understanding Strand. The activity can be used to investigate physical forces of compression and tension, properties of materials and the effects of gravity and objects in motion (e.g. cars on bridges).

Years 7 and 8

Change to an object's motion is caused by unbalanced forces acting on the object (ACSSU117)

Earth's gravity pulls objects towards the centre of the Earth (ACSSU118)

Years 9 and 10

The motion of objects can be described and predicted using the laws of physics (ACSSU229)

Science as a Human Endeavour Strand

If this workshop is extended to research and discuss the challenges faced by engineers in prototyping and developing functional structures such as bridges and platforms, it links to the Science as a Human Endeavour Strand.


Curriculum Links: Landing Challenge

Design and Technology Curriculum

Knowledge and Understanding Strand

Years 7 and 8

Analyse how motion, force and energy are used to manipulate and control electromechanical systems when designing simple, engineering solutions (ACTDEK031)

Analyse ways to produce designed solutions through selecting and combining characteristics and properties of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment (ACTDEK034)


Years 9 and Year 10

Investigate and make judgments on how the characteristics and properties of materials are combined with force, motion and energy to create engineered solutions (ACTDEK043)

Investigate and make judgments on how the characteristics and properties of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment can be combined to create designed solutions (ACTDEK046)

Investigate and make judgments, within a range of technologies specialisations, on how technologies can be combined to create designed solutions (ACTDEK047)


Processes and Production Skills Strand

Years 7 and 8

Critique needs or opportunities for designing and investigate, analyse and select from a range of materials, components, tools, equipment and processes to develop design ideas (ACTDEP035)

Generate, develop, test and communicate design ideas, plans and processes for various audiences using appropriate technical terms and technologies including graphical representation techniques (ACTDEP036)

Effectively and safely use a broad range of materials, components, tools, equipment and techniques to make designed solutions (ACTDEP037)


Years 9 and 10

Critique needs or opportunities to develop design briefs and investigate and select an increasingly sophisticated range of materials, systems, components, tools and equipment to develop design ideas (ACTDEP048)

Apply design thinking, creativity, innovation and enterprise skills to develop, modify and communicate design ideas of increasing sophistication (ACTDEP049)

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