Designing, tinkering, building, testing, and more! Engineering activities are fun, and these simple engineering projects are perfect for elementary students and beyond. You can even do them at home or with small groups in the classroom. Make sure to check out all of our STEM activities for all year round learning and play!
FUN ENGINEERING PROJECTS FOR KIDS
STEM ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
So you might ask, what does STEM actually stand for? STEM is science, technology, engineering, and math. The most important thing you can take away from this, is that STEM is for everyone!
Yes, kids of all ages can work on STEM projects and enjoy STEM lessons. STEM activities are great for group work, too!
STEM is everywhere! Just look around. The simple fact that STEM surrounds us is why it’s so important for kids to be a part of, to use and to understand STEM.
From the buildings you see in town, the bridges that connect places, the computers we use, the software programs that go with them, and to the air we breathe, STEM is what makes it all possible.
Interested in STEM plus ART? Check out all our STEAM Activities!
Engineering is an important part of STEM. What is engineering in kindergarten, preschool, and first grade? Well, it’s putting together simple structures and other items and in the process learning about the science behind them. Essentially, it’s a whole lot of doing!
BE AN ENGINEER
Learn more about engineering for kids with any of these great resources below.
WHAT IS AN ENGINEER
Is a scientist an engineer? Is an engineer a scientist? It can be very confusing! Often scientists and engineers work together to solve a problem. You may find it hard to understand how they are similar and yet different. Learn more about what is an engineer.
ENGINEERING DESIGN PROCESS
Engineers often follow a design process. There are different design processes but each one includes the same basic steps to identify and solve problems.
An example of the process is “ask, imagine, plan, create, and improve”. This process is flexible and may be completed in any order. Learn more about the Engineering Design Process.
Think like an engineer! Talk like an engineer! Act like an engineer! Get kids started with a vocabulary list that introduces some awesome engineering terms. Make sure to include them into your next engineering challenge or project.
ENGINEERING BOOKS FOR KIDS
Sometimes the best way to introduce STEM is through a colorfully illustrated book with characters your kids can relate to! Check out this fantastic list of engineering books that are teacher approved and get ready to spark curiosity and exploration!
ENGINEERING ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS
Click on the links below to see the full supplies list and instructions for how to build each project.
These fun and hands-on engineering activities below will help you teach engineering to your child, and are just plain fun to do! Read on to find out more!
Build a simple DIY anemometer like meteorologists use to measure the direction of the wind and its speed.
Learn more about this remarkable underwater structure when you construct your own model from simple supplies.
Make your own simple machine Archimedes screw inspired by Archimedes himself. All you need are a few simple supplies for this fun project.
Mobiles are free-hanging sculptures that can move in the air. Can you make a balanced mobile using our free shapes printable.
Kids love building things that move! Find out how to make this fun balloon powered car and test out how far you can it travel.
What can be more fun than making your own book? Bookbinding or making books has a long history, and you can start to learn about it with a simple book-making activity for kids. Design and build your own book from simple supplies. Then fill the pages with your own creative story, comic, or essay.
Combine simple engineering and a cool chemical reaction with this fun DIY bottle rocket project!
Simple to set up, easy to do, and full of learning possibilities! Next time you find yourself holding an empty cardboard tube roll heading to the trash, save it instead! Our cardboard tube marble run is a cheap engineering project!
Grab a magnet and a needle and find out how you can make a compass that will show you which way is North.
If you are like me, then you have a big container of recycled materials and cool items you can’t bear to get rid of! That’s exactly how we built this hand crank winch simple machine.
Learn about how the hovercraft works and build your own mini hovercraft that actually hovers. Play with engineering and science with this easy STEM project idea!
A good breeze and a few materials are all you need to tackle this DIY Kite STEM project at home or in the classroom. Learn what makes a kite fly and why a kite needs a tail.
Engineer a model of the Apollo Lunar Lander from simple supplies. The first spacecraft crewed with humans, that operated exclusively in space, and the only crewed vehicle to land anywhere beyond Earth.
It is so easy to build a marble roller coaster and it is a perfect example of a STEM activity using basic supplies. Combine design and engineering for a STEM project that will provide hours of fun and laughs!
Use pool noodles from the dollar store to engineer your own marble run wall. Design, build and test it out!
Build your own mini DIY paddle boat that can move through water.
Be inspired by famous aviator Amelia Earhart and design your own paper plane launcher.
The Eiffel tower has to be one of the most well known structures in the world. Make your own paper Eiffel tower with only tape, newspaper and a pencil.
Make a paper helicopter that actually flies! This is an easy engineering challenge for young kids and older ones too. Learn about what helps helicopters rise into the air, with a few simple supplies.
Design and build a catapult from unsharpened pencils. Test far you can fling the objects! Re-design if you need to. One of our awesome STEM pencil projects!
Challenge your kiddos to build the strongest bridge possible from just paper! Plus, you can extend the activity by exploring other types of common materials!
Exploring how you use gravity to move water through a pipeline is a great STEM project. Play with engineering, science, and a little math too!
If you want to lift a really heavy weight, there’s only so much force your muscles can supply. Use a simple machine like a pulley to multiply the force your body produces. You can also try this bigger homemade pulley system for outdoor play!
PVC PIPE PROJECTS
All you need are a set of PVC pipe pieces from your local hardware store for hands-on engineering projects for kids. Here are a few things you could build…
Robot kits are awesome to play and learn with! Find out how to make a robot car at home or in the classroom for a fun engineering project for all ages. It’s easier than you think!
Can you make a car go without pushing it or adding a motor? This rubber band-powered car is an awesome engineering project. There are lots of creative rubber band car designs, but you definitely need a rubber band and a way to wind it up! Are the gears whirring away inside your head yet?
Satellites are communication devices that orbit the earth and receive and send information from the earth. All you need are a few simple supplies to make your own satellite STEM project.
No campfire needed with this engineering classic! From shoeboxes to pizza boxes, the choice of materials is up to you. Design and build a solar oven with a whole group or as a backyard boredom buster.
Really easy to make and heaps of fun for kids to use!
Design a boat made from nothing but straws and tape, and see how many items it can hold before it sinks. Learn about simple physics while you test out your engineering skills.
It’s something you eat, but is it something you can use for an engineering challenge? Absoilutely! Try this classic STEM challenge right away.
Tell the time with your own DIY sundial. For many thousands of years people would track the time with a sundial. Make your own sundial from simple supplies.
How did the Ancient Egyptians and Ancient Greek keep track of time? Here’s how you can make your own water clock at home or in the classroom. It makes for a fun and simple engineering activity for kids.
Learn about filtration and make your own water filter at home or in the classroom. All you need are a few simple supplies and some dirty water you can mix up yourself to get started.
Water wheels are machines that use the energy of flowing water to turn a wheel and the turning wheel can then power other machines to do work. Make this super simple water wheel at home or in the classroom from paper cups and a straw.
Traditionally windmills were used on farms to pump water or grind grain. Today’s windmills or wind turbines can use the wind’s energy to generate electricity. Make your own windmill at home or in the classroom for an easy engineering activity for kids.
Inspired by inventor and scientist Mary Jackson, students can discover the power of a wind tunnel and the science behind it.
Make a simple wind vane that you can take outside to find out the direction of the wind.
TRY THIS: STEM QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
These STEM questions for reflection are perfect to use with kiddos of all ages to talk about how the project went and what they might do differently next time around.
Use these questions for reflection with your kids after they have completed the STEM challenge to encourage discussion of results and critical thinking. Older kiddos can use these questions as a writing prompt for a STEM notebook. For younger kiddos, use the questions as a fun conversation!
- What were some of the challenges you discovered along the way?
- What worked well and what did not work well?
- What part of your model or prototype do you really like? Explain why.
- What part of your model or prototype needs improvement? Explain why.
- What other materials would you like to use if you could do this challenge again?
- What would you do differently next time?
- What parts of your model or prototype are similar to the real world version?
80+ Doable Engineering Projects in one convenient pack!
- Full instructions with sample images
- Activity-specific instruction sheets
- Data Collection Sheets
- Questions for Reflection
- Architecture Building Cards: Try the tallest tower challenge
- Bridge Building Cards: Explore different types of bridges to build your own.
- Paper Chain STEM Challenge: Who can make the longest chain? Great icebreaker or quick challenge!
- 3 Little Pigs Architectural Pack: Design a house that won’t blow away!
- Great marshmallow challenge: A classic challenge kids love!
- Real-world STEM challenge lesson but don’t know where to start? Our easy-to-follow template shows the steps!
- What’s the difference between a scientist and an engineer?
- Crossword and word search with engineering vocabulary.
- Engineering vocabulary cards
- Design a one-of-a-kind invention and write about it with this 5-page activity!