STEAM Festival: Engineering Activities for Kids

For the third day of our STEAM Festival, we are featuring engineering. At Share it! Science, Sarah is giving information about designing a Rube-Goldberg contraption. Below we are giving some engineering activity ideas.

What is engineering and how do you do it?

The difference between science, technology, and engineering is not always completely clear, but basically scientists seek understanding by performing experiments, whereas engineers create new products and experiences. If you are doing an experiment, it is probably science. If you are making a model or prototype of something, then the project is probably engineering. Science Buddies has an excellent graphic comparison of the engineering method and the scientific method to help clarify the differences.

Example:

Recently scientists at Colombia University used the spores of a bacterium to harness the power of evaporation. Basically, they found out that the spores change shape in response to changes in humidity.

Then they used that understanding to engineer some very small contraptions powered by the bacteria spores. See what happens when the energy of evaporation is harnessed:

Doesn't that give you chills? Learn more about at Science Friday.

Some Ideas for Engineering Projects

1. Science Buddies has a huge list of engineering projects, including instructions how to make a "Frightened Grasshopper: Solar-Powered Robot Bug" (kit required).

2. Check out books, such as Cool Engineering Activities for Girls (Girls Science Club) by Heather E. Schwartz and Lana F Flakes (Consultant Editor) has many project ideas, most of which would work for boys as well as girls.

This book gives step-by-step instructions for making things like litter grabbers and a table made out of paper.

3. Teachers Try Science lists instructions for how to build your own robot arm. This does not involve electronics, but common household materials.

4. World Space Week (WSW) provides a teacher's activity guide with instructions for quite a few engineering projects. For example, "Houston We May Have an Omelet!" on page 7 involves designing a landing pad to help an "eggnaut" land safely. The WSW educator's page lists links to the activity guides and a number of other resources, or you can download the .pdf at this direct link.

5. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has a list of over 100 engineering project ideas from kids educational sites, like ZOOM, plus some of their own, like this extensive project that involves building bridges.

6. We also have some previous posts about engineering projects here at Growing With Science:

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Disclosures: The book above was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked titles or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

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Share It! Science and Growing with Science are pleased to announce we are teaming up for a week long Children's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Festival. Please join us for information and project ideas to help your family explore STEAM-related activities for the summer and beyond!

STEAM-festival-button-latest

Our activity schedule is as follows:

June 22: Science
Growing with Science: Science activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Are You a Scientist?

June 23: Technology
Growing with Science: Technology for Kids
Share it! Science: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology

June 24: Engineering
Growing with Science: This post
Share it! Science: Rube Goldberg Machines- an Engineering Challenge

June 25: Art with a STEM focus
Growing with Science: Art Activities for Kids with a STEM Focus
Share it! Science: Family STEAM Night- Where Art Meets Science!

June 26:  Math
Growing with Science: New math books for kids
Share It! Science: The Golden Ratio in the Garden

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!

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