The squashed tomato challenge - Practical Action


A link to Practical Action's squashed tomato challenge and its related resources, where students are tasked with designing, building and testing a way of transporting tomatoes.
the-squashed-tomato-chall... RSC Recommended

A link to the teacher and student resources for Practical Action's squashed tomato challenge.


A link to the teacher notes, student worksheets, CREST passports and certificates for the Practical Action squashed tomato challenge.

If you teach primary science, click the headings below to find out how to use this resource:

Skill development

Children will develop their working scientifically skills by:

  • Asking their own questions about scientific phenomena.
  • Selecting and planning the most appropriate ways to answer science questions, including:
    • Finding things out using a wide range of secondary sources of information.
    • Carrying out comparative and fair tests.
  • Drawing conclusions and raising further questions that could be investigated, based on their data and observations.
  • Using appropriate scientific language and ideas to explain, evaluate and communicate their methods and findings.

Learning outcomes

Children will:

  • Recognise that some mechanisms, including levers, pulleys and gears, allow a smaller force to have a greater effect.

Concepts supported

Children will learn:

  • That pulleys and levers can be used to move greater masses with less force.

Suggested activity use

This resource can be used with a whole class, with children working in groups to tackle a real world problem.

Alternatively, due to the length of time needed to complete the activity, you may wish to use this resource with a science club or as part of a school enrichment day.

There are great opportunities for cross-curricular links with design technology and mathematics within the activity. This resource may be best used once children have done some work on pulleys and levers.

Practical considerations

Time taken for design, building and carrying out of tests may be quite lengthy, so you may want to plan for several lessons or a day.

Tomatoes or an equivalent (play-dough) will need to be provided for the children to test, along with building materials.