Fragile Freight Challenge


Fragile Freight Challenge

  • Fragile Freight Challenge

    What's it about?

    This new secondary Challenge enables pupils to solve a problem faced by communities in Nepal who grow produce (including tomatoes) on high mountain terrain. They need to transport it, without damage, to a market below; however, carrying produce down the mountain can be a long and difficult journey. The Challenge is for students to design a model/system that can move this ‘fragile freight’ down the mountain in a safe and controlled way without damage. The Challenge supports STEM learning into forces, gravity, gradients, material properties and structures.

    The aims of the Challenge:

    • To design and build a model/system to move the greatest possible weight of cherry tomatoes in a controlled manner from a starting station to a base station in two minutes. The base of the loading container(s) to hold the cherry tomatoes must start its journey at a height of at least 85cm above ground level and descend to deposit the cherry tomatoes at ground level, travelling across a horizontal distance of at least 100cm
    • Encourage problem-solving, team work, presentation and communication skills
    • Increase students’ awareness that scientists and engineers around the world use their skills in ingenious ways to improve the lives of people in the developing world. This challenge supports students’ general understanding of global issues and gives them the opportunity to find out more about Sustainable Development Goals / Global Goals, particularly Goal 9 – Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure. For linked activities go to

    Eligible school year groups: Years 7-9

    Entries accepted from: Individuals or teams of 2-5 students. Schools may submit a maximum of three entries for the Challenge. Teams may be mixed age if desired.

    Open to: Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Authority schools, academies and private schools. Home-educated children may also participate. See our Terms and Conditions.

  • British Science Association CREST Awards

    CREST Bronze Award

    3M will pay for entries for the Fragile Freight Challenge to be submitted for a British Science Association CREST Bronze Award. See our Terms and Conditions. Please indicate your consent on the Entry Form.

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Important Dates

Closing date for entries: 22 March 2019

Judging: 1 May 2019 at 3M Centre, Cain Road, Bracknell, RG12 8HT. Please indicate your preferred judging time on the entry form.

Entries will be screened to ensure they meet the entry criteria. Students, accompanied by their teacher, will be invited to present their Fragile Freight model to the judges and give a presentation of up to ten minutes containing information on their background research, materials selection, design experimentation, any calculations performed and construction process. Sketches and prototypes showing the evolution of the model’s design should be included. The presentation can take any form (PowerPoint® slides, poster, video, a talk or combination) and should aim to build the students’ confidence, communication and presentation skills. Judges will ask questions about the students’ experience of taking part, their STEM learning, awareness of global issues and their final structure. All members of a team should play a part in the presentation.
The model will be checked to ensure it only uses materials from the Materials List, and that the position of the base of the loading container(s) and horizontal distance covered are correct. The two-minute time period will be measured using a digital stopwatch. The total weight of cherry tomatoes will be measured in grams using digital weighing scales.
Mark Scheme

Up to 30 marks for the total weight of cherry tomatoes transported

Up to 25 marks for designing, building and testing

  • Pupils need to outline any research conducted; use of materials and team collaboration; the science behind their model; any ethical and safety decisions made; experimentation and testing to support decision making; and overcoming problems

  • Up to 10 marks for planning

  • Pupils should demonstrate their understanding of the aim of the Challenge; initial ideas and designs; and how they planned and organised their time effectively

  • Up to 15 marks for conclusion

  • Pupils should reflect on what they have learnt by taking part in the Challenge; further improvements to their model and give examples of other real-world applications of the Challenge and why it is important

  • Up to 10 marks for quality of the presentation

    Up to 10 marks for design aesthetics. The model’s appearance should be in keeping with its intended purpose/location

    Total marks available = 100

    The students’ year group(s) will be taken into account when awarding marks

    Judges will select 4-6 finalists who will be invited to attend the 3M Young Innovators Challenge presentation evening at 3M Centre, Bracknell, on Thursday 6 June 2019, where their models and presentation materials will be displayed and the winner will be announced.

    £750 of science or design and technology equipment for school use plus a £50 gift voucher for the winning individual or team member. All finalists and their schools will receive a framed certificate.

    All entrants will receive a certificate of entry and personalised feedback from the judges.
    Curriculum links
    Links to Science Curriculum (England) Links to Design and Technology Curriculum (England)

    Key stage 3

    Scientific attitudes; pupils should be taught to:

  • pay attention to objectivity and concern for accuracy, precision, repeatability and reproducibility
  • understand that scientific methods and theories develop as earlier explanations are modified to take account of new evidence and ideas, together with the importance of publishing results and peer review

  • Experimental skills and investigations; pupils should be taught to:

  • ask questions and develop a line of enquiry based on observations of the real world, alongside prior knowledge and experience
  • make predictions using scientific knowledge and understanding
  • select, plan and carry out the most appropriate types of scientific enquiries to test predictions, including identifying independent, dependent and control variables
  • make and record observations and measurements using a range of methods for different investigations; and evaluate the reliability of methods and suggest possible improvements

  • Analysis and evaluation; through the content, pupils should be taught to:

  • present observations and data using appropriate methods, including tables and graphs
  • interpret observations and data, including identifying patterns and using observations, measurements and data to draw conclusions
  • present reasoned explanations, including explaining data in relation to predictions and hypotheses
  • identify further questions arising from their results

  • Forces

  • forces as pushes or pulls, arising from the interaction between 2 objects
  • using force arrows in diagrams, adding forces in 1 dimension, balanced and unbalanced forces
  • non-contact forces: gravity forces acting at a distance on Earth and in space
  • Key stage 3

    When designing and making the model, pupils should be taught to:


  • identify and solve their own design problems and understand how to reformulate problems given to them
  • develop specifications to inform the design of innovative, functional, appealing products that respond to needs in a variety of situations
  • develop and communicate design ideas using annotated sketches

  • Make:

  • select from and use specialist tools, techniques, processes, equipment and machinery precisely
  • select from and use a wider, more complex range of materials and components, taking into account their properties

  • Evaluate:

  • test, evaluate and refine their ideas and products against a specification, taking into account the views of intended users and other interested groups

  • Technical knowledge:

  • understand and use the properties of materials and the performance of structural elements to achieve functioning solutions

  • Important documents to download

    Please make sure you download these important documents for the Fragile Freight Challenge. Please save the entry form to your device and send as a file attachment to

    If you have any questions, please Get in Touch.
    Please see our Terms and Conditions.


    • Daniel Morgan

      Daniel Morgan

      Daniel Morgan graduated from Imperial College London in 2012 with a Master’s degree in Chemistry. He is currently an Application Engineer for 3M’s Industrial Adhesives and Tapes division. In this role, he works with customers to find suitable bonding solutions across a range of industries, from transportation to shoes! In his spare time, he likes to bake and watch football.

    • Richard Putland

      Richard Putland

      Richard is a Process Engineer with a degree in Chemical Engineering, which combines Maths, Physics and Chemistry and applies this to industry. He works at Wood plc in Reading, Berkshire as a Project Process Manager. This work has involved travel to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Korea and China.

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