Please read this
before you start...
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About Practical Action:
Fritz Schumacher (no relation to Michael!) was a
man who believed that simple technology could
change people’s lives for the better.
To prove his ideas could work and help some of
the World’s poorest people he started the charity
Practical Action in 1966. Since then Practical
Action has been working in countries like Nepal,
Sudan, Bangladesh, Peru and Zimbabwe,
improving the lives of local people using
Schumacher’s vision that the right idea – however
small – can change lives for the better.
In Nepal many farmers living on the mountainside
grow fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes. To
earn a living they need to sell these at the local
market. The problem is getting to market involves
a long, dangerous walk down the mountainside and
across a river, and tomatoes need to be transported
carefully because they can easily get squashed.
Above: Tomatoes ready to be sold in the market
To design and build a model that can move
tomatoes without squashing them.
Here are some things to think about:
You can only use the materials provided by
Instead of moving full-size fruit and
vegetables down a Nepalese mountain, we
want you to transport cherry tomatoes from a
height set by your teacher to the floor. Your
teacher might also give you a rope or string to
If your tomatoes fall to the floor by themselves,
don’t count them. If they fell down a Nepalese
mountainside, they’d be very, very squashed!
Depending on the tomatoes your teacher
chooses, and the height you’re working from,
they might squash for you too.
When you’ve made your models, test them and
see who can carry the most cherry tomatoes
down the mountain and across the river. You
might use a table to record every team’s result,
so give your model a name.
Whether your model works or not, you will meet
the challenge if you can tell your teacher why
your model did or didn’t work. You might use the
sheets we’ve provided to draw your design, and
then answer the questions about it to help your
teacher see what you did.
Above: Nepalese mother with children
Your solution can be as simple or as
complicated as you like, but remember
– think first, draw your ideas, check your
materials, choose one design and make it.
The bigger your container is the more
tomatoes you will be able to carry. But, the
heavier something is the greater the force
of the impact when they hit the ground, so
there is more chance the tomatoes will get
Show us how many tomatoes you managed to
transport by emailing photos or links to videos
of your model in action to
Good luck! We
hope you enjoy
Above: Farmer ready to transport tomatoes
down the mountainside in the traditional way
using a basket with a head strap.
Left: View from the mountainside showing how
far tomatoes really have to travel in Nepal