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Glenn EDC – Powered and Pumped Up

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is America’s civil space program and the global leader in space exploration. The agency has a diverse workforce of just under 18,000 civil servants, and works with many more U.S. contractors, academia, and international and commercial partners to explore, discover, and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity.


Using the engineering design process, students will design, build, and improve a stand-alone solar powered pumping system to move water as quickly as possible between two containers. Students will use light-concentrating materials, shapes, and structures to maximize the collection of simulated solar energy. The energy will then be directed toward a solar cell that will power the system to move the water.

Supporting Science Investigations:

  1. How Intense Are You? – Learn how light intensity changes as you move away from the source.
  2. What’s the Point? – Explore how lenses can be used to manipulate light.
  3. Shed Some Light – Use mirrors to reflect light and learn about focusing energy to a desired location.

Introduction Video

Challenge Content

EDC-03: Powered and Pumped Up Facilitation Guide (PDF)
EDC-03: Powered and Pumped Up Facilitator Presentation (PDF)

Next Generation Science Standards Addressed

Engineering Design

  • MS–ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • MS–ETS1–2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • MS–ETS1–3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • MS–ETS1–4. Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved. 

Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation

  • MS–PS4–2. Develop and use a model to describe that waves are reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through various materials.

Related NASA Content

Online Resources

Informational Videos

Contact Information

Gerald Voltz
Education Program Specialist
(216) 433-8817

Glenn Research Center – Office of STEM Engagement

Phone: (216) 433-6656

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