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