Contact Us View Cart

Earthbound and Down™ Mass Driver

Students take on the role of HAWC engineers to design and test a Moon-to-Earth mass driver.
Earthbound and Down™ Mass Driver



A lunar construction crew will be building a state-of-the-art mass driver to launch Helium-3 shipments from the Moon to Earth, replacing dangerous and expensive rocket propulsion systems. Your students will take on the role of a HAWC engineering team tasked with designing and testing a mass driver that will achieve this goal.


  1. Design, build and test a mass driver.
  2. Map the flow of energy through the system as it is converted from one form to another.


  1. Student will understand the difference between Potential, Kinetic, Magnetic, and Electrical Energy.
  2. Student will develop an understanding of the law of conservation of energy and be able to explain why energy conversion processes are not 100% efficient.
  3. Student will be able to create a model for projectile motion in two dimensions.
  4. Student will understand the three laws of motion.
  5. Student will state and use Ohm's law to solve electrical circuit problems.
  6. Student will demonstrate understanding of linear and non-linear functions.
  7. Student will be able to use the right hand rule to draw magnetic forces in a line, ring, and coil.
  8. Design and construct an electromagnetic coil and use the coil in a mass driver.
  9. Map the flow of energy through the mass driver while maintaining an energy balance.
  10. Calculate the efficiency for transferring electrical energy into kinetic energy for a model mass driver.


Next Generation Science Standards

PS2.A: Forces and Motion

HS-PS2-1. Analyze data to support the claim that Newton’s second law of motion describes the
mathematical relationship among the net force on a macroscopic object, its mass, and its acceleration.
MS-PS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of
a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system.

PS2.B: Types of Interactions

HS-PS2-4. Use mathematical representations of Newton’s Law of Gravitation and Coulomb’s Law
to describe and predict the gravitational and electrostatic forces between objects.

PS3.A: Definitions of Energy

HS-PS3-2. Develop and use models to illustrate that energy at the macroscopic scale can be accounted
for as either motions of particles or energy stored in fields.

PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer

HS-PS3-1. Create a computational model to calculate the change in the energy of one component
in a system when the change in energy of the other component(s) and energy flows in and
out of the system are known.
HS-PS3-5. Develop and use a model of two objects interacting through electric or magnetic
fields to illustrate the forces between objects and the changes in energy of the objects due to
the interaction.

ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System

HS-ESS1-4. Use mathematical or computational representations to predict the motion of orbiting
objects in the solar system.

ETS1.A: Defining and Delimiting Engineering Problems

HS-PS2-5. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence that an electric current can
produce a magnetic field and that a changing magnetic field can produce an electric current.
HS-PS3-3. Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one
form of energy into another form of energy.
HS-ETS1-1. Analyze a major global challenge to specify qualitative and quantitative criteria and
constraints for solutions that account for societal needs and wants.

ETS1.B: Developing Possible Solutions

HS-ETS1-2. Design a solution to a complex real-world problem by breaking it down into smaller,
more manageable problems that can be solved through engineering.

ETS1.C: Optimizing the Design Solution

HS-ETS1-3. Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problembased on prioritized criteria and
trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics,
as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
HS-ETS1-4. Use a computer simulation to model the impact of proposed solutions to a complex
real-world problem with numerous criteria and constraints on interactions within and between
systems relevant to the problem.


Common Core Mathematics Standards

Note: It is impossible for one kit to fully teach the nuances of each common core standard. However, an
introduction to topics within many of these standards are contained within the activity text, procedure,
pre-and post-lab questions. This kit makes an excellent introduction to practical applications of the
topics covered by the standards.

High School: Number and Quantity
Reason quantitatively and use units to solve problems

HSN-Q.A.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multistep
problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the
scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.
HSN-Q.A.2 Define appropriate quantities for the purpose of descriptive modeling.
HSN-Q.A.3 Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations of measurement when reporting

High School: Algebra
Interpret the structure of expressions.

HSA-SSE.A.1 Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.
HSA-SSE.A.1a Interpret parts of an expression, such as terms, factors, and coefficients.
HSA-SSE.A.1b Interpret complicated expressions by vewing one or more of their parts as
a single entity.

Represent and solve equations and inequalities graphically.

HSA-REI.D.10 Understand that the graph of an equation in two variables is the set of all
its solutions plotted in the coordinate plane, often forming a curve (which could be a line).

High School: Functions
Interpret functions that arise in terms of the context.

CCSS.Math.Content.HSF-IF.B.4 For a function that models a relationship between two quantities,
interpret key features of graphs and tables in terms of the quantities, and sketch graphs
showing key features given a verbal description of the relationship.
CCSS.Math.Content.HSF-IF.B.6 Calculate and interpret the average rate of change of a function
(presented symbolically or as a table) over a specified interval. Estimate the rate of change
from a graph.

Analyze functions using different representations.

CCSS.Math.Content.HSF-IF.C.7 Graph functions expressed symbolically and show key features
of the graph, by hand in simple cases and using technology for more complicated cases.
Construct and compare linear, quadratic, and exponential models and solve problems.
CCSS.Math.Content.HSF-LE.A.1 Distinguish between situations that can be modeled with linear
functions and with exponential functions.

Included Materials
  • Mass driver subassembly parts (8)
    • Mass driver body
    • Electromagnetic coil wire
    • Coil end washers
    • Ball bearing payloads
  • Electronic launch box (1)
  • Mass driver stand and target (1)
  • Protractors (8)
  • Microphone (1)
  • Measuring tape
Required Materials
  • Protective eyewear
  • Hot glue guns (8 optimal)
  • PC or laptop
Storage Conditions Cool and Dark (Ambient)
Stability Indefinite

Teacher Manuals

We've got your resources - Slides, manuals, and more! Click here (account registration required)