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Age Range: 11-14
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • D&T

Table tennis server

IET Faraday® DIY Challenge Day

This engineering challenge for kids aims to create a device that consistently serves table tennis balls to a player so that they can practice their skills at the table tennis table. By creating this brilliant machine, a player can practice table tennis on their own while the machine serves back to them.

Activity introduction

The Faraday Challenge ‘Table Tennis Server’ has been designed for six teams of six students (36 students in total) aged 12 – 13 years (year 8, and equivalent).

Each team will be asked to assign: a team leader; an accountant; an assessment coordinator; two scientists; two mathematicians; two design and technologists; manufacturers and designers. Each team member will need to be assigned more than one role and feed into different aspects of the day.

You can adapt this set of resources for larger numbers of students if, for example, you wish to run the event for the whole year group. If this is the case, you will need to increase the number of team booklets and practical resources appropriately.

We have provided a set of printable resources and guidelines notes giving teachers and technicians the basic ingredients to run their very own Faraday Challenge Day. This cross-curricular activity day brings science, design and technology, engineering and maths (STEM) together in an engaging way.

What’s included?

The complete set of downloadable materials includes:

  • Teachers pack
    A list of the practical materials needed, presenters’ notes highlighting key areas and reinforcing key themes throughout the day, some handy hints on how to deliver the day . . . plus printable Faradays currency and student certificates.
  • Student booklet
    Available as an editable MSWord document to allow the booklet to be adapted to meets the needs of your students and your school.
  • Introductory PowerPoint presentation
    A step-by-step guide for your students throughout the day, with supporting notes for the delivery of the presentation, including links to the related film clips.  
  • Film clips
    Informative clips about table tennis and how practice makes perfect, plus examples of possible solutions to the challenge. 

The engineering context

Table tennis is a growing sport in the UK. Practice, as with most things, is the key to improving at the sport. The only problem is that it is hard to practice on your own. Being able to return service is often what provides the edge in terms of winning and losing.

Within this challenge, students will work in teams to design and make a prototype device that will serve tennis balls consistently across a table tennis table. The server must fit securely on the edge of the table and serve at least four balls accurately and precisely in the same position, and allow the ball to be returned.

Download the free activity sheet below!

All online resources (including film clips!) are free to download, and the student booklet and PowerPoint presentation are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

You can stream and download the related films for free by clicking on the appropriate link in the related resources section below.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.


Example server 1

Example server 2

Example server 3

Learning log example

Practice makes perfect

Related resources