5 Days of Engineering Challenges
Updated: Apr 17
To start with something fairly simple, we are offering you 5 days of engineering challenges using recycled materials and basic supplies at home! (These activities can easily be adapted to take place indoors or outdoors).
Engineering challenges cover many curriculum subjects and topics such as:
Writing (if using a journal)
Art (if encouraged to design/decorate)
These activities also teach children:
how things work
how materials behave in different situations
how to fail without giving up
how to manage frustration and take breaks
The Activities (Grades K-8):
Tell your children that they can use anything out of the recycling bin and/or items from nature... PLUS: LEGO pieces, straws, popsicle sticks, scissors, tape, art supplies and a measuring tape/ruler to do the following:
Day 1: Build a structure out of paper or sticks that will hold a book (or if you are brave, an egg).
Day 2: Build a boat that is buoyant in the bath. (*Use the word “buoyancy”, it’s a key topic in Alberta’s grade 2 science curriculum).
Day 3: Build a rocket launcher.
Day 4: Build 3 different paper aircrafts and measure and record how far and high each flies.
Day 5: Build a wind-propelled vehicle.
For the advanced/energetic/enthusiastic parents:
Encourage your children to keep a “scientist’s journal” and record the materials they used, their original ideas or hypothesis, what failed and what worked and to measure the distance, height etc. of the working product. Older students should be encouraged to come up with related math problems to answer.
For the Changemaker twist, encourage your children to reflect on their finished project by discussing or writing a paragraph on how an invention like this could make a positive impact on the world in some way (if they had unlimited resources and funds).
Alternatively, for the more creative PBL folks, you can start the project by asking your child how they might solve a big world problem that would require that they build a prototype/invention using recyclable materials. See what they come up with on their own and dig deep into the research, discussions and debates that follow!
Most importantly, allow your children to build on their own! Refrain from giving tips on what might work. Ask questions but don’t give answers. To struggle, make mistakes and problem-solve is the whole point!
Inspired by the Homeschool Scientist: https://thehomeschoolscientist.com/paper-structures-engineering-challenge/