Engineering For Kids – 12 Fun Ideas and Resources

Engineering for kids is a fantastic way to build skills and competencies that will set students up for successful careers in many fields. As a core pillar of STEM we love incorporating engineering into our regular lessons. Here are 12 fun ideas and resources to introduce engineering to kids and foster a future generation of engineers.

FOCUSING ON THE ENGINEERING IN STEM ACTIVITIES

Child with engineered hat with light bulb lit on top. Engineering for Kids 12 resources to inspire in the classroom or home
Incorporate engineering skills into your lessons to build STEM competencies for students of all ages.

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What is an engineer? Albert Einstein said it best when he stated, “Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been.” Engineering is a field of study that is growing leaps and bounds every year. Even if your child doesn’t foresee a future career in engineering, he or she will still definitely benefit from the knowledge gained from these resources. Not to mention they are a lot of fun!

LEGO

LEGO bricks are the perfect resource for a budding engineer, and the most obvious! It is amazing what someone can build with Lego. Especially when they break free of the kits and use their imagination. They are the type of “toy” that can stay with a person all the way into adulthood. I know I find it very calming and soothing to build with Lego. Every year I look forward to buying myself a new Christmas kit and doing the build as my quiet time during the busy holiday season. And I’m not alone. Many professional architects and civil engineers readily admit to still playing with LEGO as an adult.

LEGO Classic Large Creative Brick Box 10698 Build Your Own Creative Toys, Kids Building Kit (790 Pieces)LEGO Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V 21309 Outer Space Model Rocket for Kids and Adults, Science Building Kit (1900 pieces)LEGO Technic WHACK! 42072 Building Kit (135 Pieces)LEGO Technic Bugatti Chiron 42083 Race Car Building Kit and Engineering Toy, Adult Collectible Sports Car with Scale Model Engine (3599 Piece)LEGO Technic Racing Yacht 42074 Building Kit (330 Pieces)LEGO Harry Potter Advent Calendar 75964 Building Kit, New 2019 (305 Pieces)

 

LEGO Architect

The LEGO Architect is a fascinating book that is definite eye-candy for any LEGO fan. It is packed full of inspiration for big projects that go beyond the typical Lego kits. Showing off 7 architectural styles and 12 models, it contains easy to follow instructions for building each of the models.

The LEGO ArchitectThe LEGO Architecture Idea Book: 1001 Ideas for Brickwork, Siding, Windows, Columns, Roofing, and Much, Much MoreLEGO Architecture Studio 21050 Building Blocks SetLEGO Architecture 21045 Trafalgar Square Building Kit, New 2019 (1197 Pieces)LEGO Architecture London Skyline Collection 21034 Building Set Model Kit and Gift for Kids and Adults (468 pieces)

 

LEGO Creation Books

I LOVE these books by Sarah Dees. She is an absolute genius at coming up with cool Lego creations for kids to build. She currently has three books available with a new, really exciting one coming out in November! In her books you get lots of great photos and directions on how to use your own bricks to build cool inventions, creations and projects. Next up, a Space Lego book! I can’t wait!!!!

Awesome LEGO Creations with Bricks You Already Have: 50 New Robots, Dragons, Race Cars, Planes, Wild Animals and Other Exciting Projects to Build Imaginative WorldsGenius LEGO Inventions with Bricks You Already Have: 40+ New Robots, Vehicles, Contraptions, Gadgets, Games and Other Fun STEM CreationsEpic LEGO Adventures with Bricks You Already Have: Build Crazy Worlds Where Aliens Live on the Moon, Dinosaurs Walk Among Us, Scientists Battle Mutant Bugs and You Bring Their Hilarious Tales to LifeIncredible LEGO® Creations from Space with Bricks You Already Have: 25 New Spaceships, Rovers, Aliens and Other Fun Projects to Expand Your LEGO Universe

 

Story Books About Engineering

One exceptional way to inspire kids is by using fiction books or fictional history books, that also teach and inspire kids to build, create and engineer. Kids love learning through a well written story with fascinating characters. Here are just a few of our favourites.

Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab: A Mystery with Electromagnets, Burglar Alarms, and Other Gadgets You Can Build YourselfNick and Tesla's Robot Army Rampage: A Mystery with Hoverbots, Bristle Bots, and Other Robots You Can Build YourselfNick and Tesla's Special Effects Spectacular: A Mystery with Animatronics, Alien Makeup, Camera Gear, and Other Movie Magic You Can Make Yourself!Leonardo da Vinci Gets a Do-Over (Innovators in Action)Ara the Star EngineerMagnolia Mudd and the Super Jumptastic Launcher DeluxeRosie Revere, EngineerRosie Revere's Big Project Book for Bold EngineersThe House That Cleaned Itself: The True Story of Frances Gabe's (Mostly) Marvelous Invention

 

TED-Ed Videos

TED has a website devoted entirely to lessons for students of all ages called Ted-Ed. Here is a direct link to the engineering videos for middle to high school students. Each video is roughly 5 minutes long and is packed with information students will find fascinating. After each video, there is a quiz, additional resources, and a guided discussion. You can find a catalog of their engineering lessons here.

Engineers by DK Publishing

Part history, part engineering, Engineers details the hard work, years of sacrifice, and sheer determination of engineers like Eli Whitney, Nikola Telsa, and the Wright Brothers. This book covers everything from Imhotep, the great pyramid builder in ancient Egypt, to modern engineers like Burt Rutan, the American aerospace engineer who designed Voyager, the first plane to fly non-stop around the world and SpaceShipOne, the first privately owned spacecraft.

Engineers: From the Great Pyramids to the Pioneers of Space Travel

 

Engineering Magazines

Science World is a current events magazine published by Scholastic 12 times during the school year (September – May.) There are many engineering stories published in each issue. Some topics you might find include, how to build a massive kite, the world’s biggest ships, the Panama Canal, and recycled sewage water.

Or, for your older students Popular Mechanics is a great choice. It is fun, entertaining and has easily understood articles for those new to the field and looking to get a feel for the topics.

Engineering for Kids – Research Career Ideas

There are many engineering disciplines, from aerospace to nuclear. Educating Engineers covers careers and education options for students interested in pursuing engineering.

Engineering Project Books For Kids

Sometimes what kids need is just a little push of inspiration to get them really passionate about a topic. With these project books your students will find tons of ideas for their next project. Which could soon turn into a passion. Here are some engineering project books on our bookshelf. They use everything from specialty items, to simple paper to engineer some amazing creations.

Bridges and Tunnels: Investigate Feats of Engineering with 25 Projects (Build It Yourself)Hands-On EngineeringEasy Paper Projects: 60 Crafts You Can Wear, Gift, Use and AdmireExcellent Engineering: 35 Amazing Constructions You Can Build at HomeSticks and Stones: A Kid's Guide to Building and Exploring in the Great OutdoorsSTEAM Play & Learn: 20 fun step-by-step preschool projects about science, technology, engineering, arts, and math!STEAM Kids: 50+ Science / Technology / Engineering / Art / Math Hands-On Projects for KidsThe Book of Space Rockets (Clever Cogz)

 

Board Games That Teach Engineering Skills

Board games are a great way to build skills for future engineers. Here are a few we love!

Qwirkle – It is the perfect game for engineering minds. It is a simple game of matching colors and shapes that requires tactical maneuvers, quick-thinking and a well-planned strategy.

Kerplunk – Your young civil engineers will love the challenge of figuring out which stick you can remove without the marbles falling. Another game with a similar lesson is the always popular Jenga.

Operation – Although it might appear as more of a biology, future doctor game, Operation is actually fantastic at teaching our future electrical engineers about closed and open circuits.

There are so many more board games that teach engineering skills. That might need it’s very own article just to cover them all!

Qwirkle Board GameMattel Games Ker Plunk GameJenga Classic GameOperation Electronic Board Game With Cards Kids Skill Game Ages 6 and Up (Amazon Exclusive)

 

MEL Kids – Engineering in a Box

One of our favourite educational box programs is MEL Science and MEL Kids. Although both are STEM Kits, MEL Kids has a strong engineering component with exceptional lessons and projects. We have build music boxes, cannons, rocket launchers and more. Highly recommended and a great way to get kids into STEM.

MEL Science and MEL Kids

Engineering Project Kits

Young engineers will love exploring, learning and growing with good quality kits. A few of our favourite engineering subscription boxes are Creation Crate and Groovy Lab in a Box.

Creation Crate

For one time purchase engineering kits (that are not Lego) we love these kits.

Gravitrax is the most brilliant marble maze construction sets you will ever encounter. They are our absolute favourite and you can build epic marble runs!

A great addition to your Lego is Robo Wunderkind. It works with your Lego to create robots and mechanical creations that actually move.

We also really love littleBits and Snap Circuits for some electrical engineering challenge projects.

Ravensburger Gravitrax Marble Run & STEM Toy For Boys & Girls Age 8 & Up - 2019 Toy of The Year FinalistRavensburger GraviTrax XXL Starter Set Marble Run and STEM Toy for Boys and Girls Age 8 and Up - 2019 Toy of The Year FinalistRavensburger Gravitrax Lifter Expansion Set Marble Run & STEM Toy for Boys & Girls Age 8 & Up - Expansion for 2019 Toy of The Year Finalist GravitraxRavensburger Gravitrax Scoop Accessory - Marble Run & STEM Toy for Boys & Girls Age 8 & Up - Accessory for 2019 Toy of The Year Finalist GravitraxRavensburger Gravitrax Magnetic Cannon Accessory - Marble Run & STEM Toy for Boys & Girls Age 8 & Up - Accessory for 2019 Toy of The Year Finalist GravitraxRavensburger Gravitrax Trampoline Accessory - Marble Run & STEM Toy for Boys & Girls Age 8 & Up - Accessory for 2019 Toy of The Year Finalist GravitraxRobo Wunderkind Robotics Kit - Build and Code Your Own Robots - STEM Toy for Kids 5-10 - Compatible with Lego - 2 Free Apps with Creative Coding Projects (Education Kit - 23 Piece Set)littleBits Base Inventor KitSnap Circuits Extreme SC-750 Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 750 Projects | Full Color Project Manual | 80+ Snap Circuits Parts | STEM Educational Toy For Kids 8+Snap Circuits Classic SC-300 Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 300 Projects | Full Color Project Manual | 60+ Snap Circuits Parts | STEM Educational Toy for Kids 8+Snap Circuits Green Alternative Energy Electronics Exploration Kit | Over 125 STEM Projects | Full Color Project Manual | 40+ Snap Circuits Parts | STEM Educational Toys for Kids 8+

 

Looking for more hands on projects? Check out our Mechanical Engineering Activities for Kids.

Mechanical engineering for kids: the study of machines is a stem activity perfect for kids who want to discover how things work, just like Leonardo da Vinci

BONUS ONLINE LEARNING IDEAS

Looking for an online class for your young engineer? I found lots of amazing looking options on Outschool. Check it out here and search for engineering and your child’s age to see all the fun classes on offer.

Have fun creating, building, imagining and most of all engineering the future of your child’s dreams!

Engineering for Kids 12 Resources and Ideas to Inspire in the Classroom or Home

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