Designing, planning, building, testing and more! Engineering for kids doesn’t have to be complicated or hard! These simple kid friendly engineering projects are perfectly fun STEM building activities you can do at home or with small groups in the classroom. Make sure to check out all our STEM projects for year round learning and play.
ENGINEERING CHALLENGES FOR KIDS
WHAT IS ENGINEERING FOR KIDS?
Let’s keep it simple for our junior engineers! Engineering, simply put, is the application of science and math to solve problems.
Engineering is all about designing and building machines, structures, and other items, including bridges, tunnels, roads, vehicles etc. Engineers take scientific principals and make things that are useful for people.
Like other areas of STEM, engineering is all about solving problems and figuring out why things do what they do. Keep in mind that a good engineering challenge will involve some science and math too!
How does this work? You might not always know the answer to that question! However, what you can do is provide learning opportunities to get your kids started with the engineering process of planning, designing, building and reflecting.
Engineering is good for kids! Whether it be in the successes or learning through failures, engineering projects push kids to expand their horizons, experiment, problem-solve, and embrace failure as a means to success.
Can engineering be do-able and fun for kids? Absolutely, and we will show you some AMAZING engineering projects and challenges for kids below that are easy to set up, budget-friendly, and of course playful! Hands-on is the way to go with our young scientists, explorers, and engineers.
Check out these other fun engineering activities…
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!
STEM QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION
These STEM questions for reflection are perfect to use with kiddos of all ages to talk about how each engineering 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.
Have each kiddo share his/her thoughts on the challenge. A good engineer or scientist always shares his/her findings or results!
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?
12 ENGINEERING PROJECTS FOR KIDS
Click on each engineering activity below for the full supply list and step by step instructions.
Grab some recyclables and a handful of marbles. Make this marble roller coaster as simple or complicated as your imagination wants.
Water wheels are simple machines that use the energy of flowing water to turn a wheel. The turning wheel can then power other machines to do work. Make this simple water wheel at home or in the classroom from paper cups and a straw.
This DIY water pipeline is easy to make with just a few simple materials. Explore how you use gravity to move water through a pipeline for a great STEM project.
Be inspired by Women In STEM, Evelyn Boyd Granville and build your own homemade satellite. Satellites are important communication devices that orbit the earth, and receive and send information from the earth.
Can you make a hovercraft that actually hovers? Learn about how the hovercraft works and build your own mini hovercraft.
Which paper structure will hold the most books? Experiment with folding paper in different ways to test its strength, and learn about what shapes make the strongest structures.
This is an awesome STEM challenge for young kids and older ones too! Explore forces, and what makes a paper bridge strong. Fold that paper and test our your paper bridge designs.
Who can make the longest paper chain from a single piece of paper? Sounds too easy? Or is it?!
This is an awesome engineering challenge for young kids and older ones too! Design a way to protect your egg from cracking when dropped from a height. Your imagination is the limit!
Today windmills or wind turbines can use the wind’s energy to generate electricity. Make your own windmill from paper cups and a straw.
Be inspired by another famous women in STEM, Amelia Earhart and design your own paper plane launcher.
Build the tallest spaghetti tower that can hold the weight of a jumbo marshmallow. Test out those design and engineering skills with a few simple materials.
FUN ENGINEERING PROJECTS FOR KIDS
Click on the image below or on the link for more awesome STEM activities for kids.