The Squashed Tomato Challenge
A STEM Challenge where pupils design and build a model to move tomatoes down a mountain
Challenge your students to take on a real life problem affecting people in Nepal.
The problem: 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 mountain side and over a river, at the end of which the tomatoes may well be a bit squashed.
The challenge: To design, build and test a way of moving tomatoes that won't squash them!
Suitable for pupils aged 7-16.
The basic challenge is flexible enough to be adapted to any length upto a whole day challenge (for which secondary students can gain a British Science Association CREST Discovery Award), and enhancement activities are suggested if you wish to develop it further.
The activity is also accredited by the British Science Association as suitable to count towards a CREST Star Investigators SuperStar award ( for primary students) . For more information about the scheme please visit their website
The challenge can provide a focus for British Science Week ; be used as a STEM or science club activity; enhance a lesson on forces/friction/levers; form the basis of an enrichment day; provide an activity for SEAL and PLTS and be the starting point for a range of cross-curricular activities. To view examples of how schools have used the Squashed Tomato Challenge go to Challenges in Schools.
NEW POSTER For a free A2 Squashed Tomato challenge poster, download from below or email us for a free copy.
All the information you need on how to run the Squashed Tomato Challenge with suggested extension activities
All the information your students will need to complete the Squashed Tomato Challenge
Squashed Tomato challenge poster
A poster to support that shows how aerial ropeway systems in Nepal work.
A sample of a CREST Discovery Award passport.
Squashed Tomato Challenge Powerpoint
A presentation to introduce and run the Squashed Tomato challenge.
Certificates - well done
Certificates - congratulations
Worksheets for the CREST award
Worksheets to be completed by students in order to achieve the CREST Discovery award
How an aerial ropeway works
How ropeways have changed people's lives
Watch students at the INTECH science centre take part in the challenge
The images below are linked to Flickr. They can be used to help illustrate the context of the challenge and/or for display.
How it works
Find out more about how gravity ropeways work and affect the lives of people in Nepal.
Read our detailed technical brief on gravity ropeways
Case study of how a family has benefited from the gravity ropeway
Have a look at a great article in Low-tech Magazine on the history of aerial ropeways which includes diagrams and information on a variety of different structures and and their uses.
Some quite interesting facts about tomatoes
- The tomato is the world's most popular fruit. 60 millions tons are produce each year, 16 million more than the banana.
- It used to be thought that tomatoes were poisonous. They come from the same family as deadly nightshade.
- An average size tomato has 35 calories.
- Tomatoes originated from South America, in the Andes. They were first cultivated in 700AD by Aztecs and Incas.
- Tomatoes are rich in vitamins A and C and fibre, and are cholesterol free.
- The tomato was once considered to be an aphrodisiac. The French called it 'the apple of love'.
- Tomatoes will keep longer if you store them stalk down.
Some quite bad tomato jokes!
Why did the tomato blush? Because he saw the salad dressing
A family of three tomatoes were walking downtown one day when the little baby tomato started lagging behind. The big father tomato walks back to the baby tomato, stomps on her, squashing her into a red paste, and says, "Ketchup!"
What's a vampire's favourite soup? Scream of tomato.
Grace was looking at the red ripe tomatoes growing in the farmer’s garden. “I’ll give you a penny for that tomato,” said Grace, pointing to a beautiful, large, ripe fruit hanging on the vine.
“No,” said the farmer, “I get ten pence for a tomato like that one.”
Grace pointed to a smaller green one, “Will you take a penny for that one?”
“Yes,” replied the farmer, “I’ll give you that one for a penny.”
“OK,” said Grace, “I’ll pick it up in about a week.”