Seriously — Engineering for Kids?

Kids already are natural builders. Give them LEGOS, facilitation, and information and watch as kids become engineers.

Actually, I never thought about engineering for kid until AJ (4th grade) took a Play-Well Engineering FUNdamentals class after school, which she loves. It got me thinking about all the ways to learn about engineering – and, you know I love to research and learn so I’ve gathered some great resources to share with you!

But, let’s start with the Play-Well Engineering FUNdamentals Class. In the class I observed, AJ learned about pneumatics and made a claw. (Admittedly, I didn’t even know the word pneumatics - am I smarter than a 4th grader? Ha.)

I won’t share the secrets of the Play-Well classes but I’ll tell you that the claws were really amazing.

The kids experimented picking up things and then had a relay race.

I loved the learning, the collaboration, the experimenting, and the fun!

You do this kind of engineering exploration at home or in your own community, too. Here’s how.

Engineering at Home

Engineering Books For Kids

Engineering the ABCs by Patty O’Brien Novak

The Way Things Work 

Steven Caney’s Ultimate Building Book

Engineering the City: How Infrastructure Works 

The Curious Adventures of Sydney and Symon in: Water Wonders

Engineering Competitions

Future Cities Competition - 6th, 7th, and 8th graders compete to plan a city.

Math Counts – a national math enrichment program and competition.

Invent It. Build It. – Girl Scouts and Aspire

Engineering Learning Resources

Society of Women Engineers: Aspire – resources for K-12 students.

Engineering Education Service Center – Outreach and hands-on activities in engineering.

A World in Motion – bringing STEM in the classroom.

Alice from Carnegie Mellon – educational software that teaches computer programming in a 3D programming environment

Scratch from MIT – a programming language for everyone to create interactive stories, games, music, and art

FisherTechNik – a construction toy brand that teaches engineering through play.

Aren’t these cool resources?

What do you think?

  • http://wordplayhouse.com wordplayhouse®

    The head of the family here is an engineer, so engineering has been ingrained our oldest’s activities and interests from a young age. Lego Mindstorms has engaged our oldest in programming and constructing skills, there are many good programming books, and you’ve included so many great ideas here for introducing children to engineering.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      great to know, thanks!

  • Maria G

    If your child loves building, I highly recommend Fischer Technik! I had never heard of it, but my husband, who’s German, played with these as a child, and introduced them to our 9 year old daughter last Christmas. You can build all kinds of interesting things. Last year she built a solar-powered car and a ferris wheel. We just ordered a bunch of new kits, and this past weekend she built both a working elevator, and a dishwasher, w/o the water, but it was powered. They can learn both to build, and simple programming languages, so it’s both educational & great fun.

    Highly recommended!
    ~Maria

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      they look really amazing – thanks for the thumbs up!

  • http://www.EngineeringInk.com Pamela Waterman

    Hi Melissa. Terrific resource article – I’m going to spread the word about it. It’s exciting to see that there really are a lot of ways to let children of all ages catch the fun of engineering.

  • http://www.roxapp.com Robert S.

    Great reference article. My wife and I were discussing the importance of encouraging creativity in the workplace. We as adult professionals needs to be more creative in re-engineeing the workplace. We can learn from these kids. Thanks for the information. We will definitely share with our son.

  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    My mom friend also works with a non profit called USFirst.org. It helps parents set up lego robotics programs in their communities in case you don’t have access to great classes like Play-Well. (We don’t). They also have robotics programs.

    A mom at my school who is also a high school chemistry teacher lead a group of elementary age kids in this and they had a blast!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      thanks, Mia – USFirst sounds fantastic!

  • http://www.theresabook.com Danielle

    Love this article! Thank you for all these resources! My son has always been more interested in hands-on and fine motor skill type activities. He loves learning how things work and at 2 was asked if he could be taken to a conference to “show off” his abilities by a therapist he was seeing for his autism (yeah, my son is not a circus monkey :oP). But despite all of this I am not the mom who knows where to find more activities to keep him stimulated. So this is incredibly helpful! Thank you so much Melissa! Your site is, as always, a great resource for me and others I’m sure!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      Thanks for making my day, Danielle! (And, I think you are that mom BTW.) :)

  • http://www.encouragetheirtalents.com/ Stephanie

    Nice resources. I was just telling my oldest about a club at her school sending a team to a contest at Legoland soon. She’s pretty jealous. She also isn’t old enough for the particular group, so it’s not like she’s missing out with them yet.

  • http://gwynridenhour.wordpress.com Gwyn Ridenhour

    So great! I’m working with the Lego WeDo Robotics kit with my daughter (8), and my son is excited to begin experimenting with Rube Goldberg machines. Over the next couple of months, we’re going to build one starting in our home’s upstairs, going down the stairwell, and finish off in the basement. I’ve never engineered anything in my life. I’m super excited. Thanks for these resources – you have perfect timing!

  • http://TinkerLab.com Rachelle | TinkerLab

    This is wonderful, Melissa! I love all the resources — you’ve done a ton of research and we’re all the luckier for it.

  • http://mommylabs.gorgeouskarma.com Rashmie @MommyLabs

    What amazing ideas, Melissa! I’m going to check these out. My daughter LOVES building structures with blocks. She can spend hours doing it. She has the inclination toward engineering type of activities. So, these will be of interest to her. Thank you for sharing :)

  • http://www.jdaniel4smom.com JDaniel4′s Mom

    What a great post! It is filled with such wonderful ideas.

  • Chantelle

    What an excellent list of resources! I can’t wait to try some of these out with my sons! Just thought I’d ask though, when you say she learned about “mnemonics” I wonder if she may have learned about “pneumatics” instead, as “mnemonics” are little tricks and ways to help people remember things, whereas “pneumatics” have to do with using liquids under pressure to cause things to move. Just thought I’d mention it so you’d know what to look up if she is looking to learn more about the subject in the future. Thanks again for all the resources!

  • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

    Hilarious – yes, I totally mixed up the word!!

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  • http://www.pattyobriennovak.com Patty OBrien Novak

    Wow, Melissa – I was sooooo excited to see this posting AND even more excited that you included my book “Engineering the ABC’s” in your article! Thank you so much – I am honored to be included in your postings. And thank you too for writing this great article on engineering for kids. So many people think engineering is too hard for kids or “way above them.” But really, engineering is just life!

  • http://dinosaursandoctopuses.blogspot.com Joyce @Dinosaurs And Octopuses

    This is a fabulous post with a ton of information! Even the comments are full of great ideas and recommendations! Thank you for sharing.

  • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

    So true – and it’s really interesting to figure out how things work!

  • Alicia Komar

    I second FIRST Robotics. I have been a mentor for 8 years, working with kids in developing their engineering, math, science, technology, leadership, business and team skills. FIRST’s mission is “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders.” They are the largest nonprofit organization of the sort, with programs ranging from Kindergarten through High School. Check them out at: http://usfirst.org/

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