Engineering Challenges for Kids
Is it time to spice up your homeschool with something a bit different? Engineering Challenges have always added some excitement to our homeschooling. In general, they don’t take much time, but they sure are fun & call for some creativity.
My daughter said she wanted to add some engineering challenges into our homeschool day again. I’ve been trying to come up with some new challenges to add into our homeschool week. (Even my older two got into the action!)
I have a list of various engineering (and STEM) challenges printed out and hanging on our bulletin board. She works on these when she has time. We’ve all been getting in on the action!
I thought I would share a few engineering challenge ideas to get your started! These are engineering challenges we’ve done through the years.
I’ll add in more engineering activities as we get to them. Hope you find something fun!
The Domino Engineering Challenge:
The kids have created many variations of the domino challenge lately! I’ll share just one photo of their domino creations, but be sure to check out the amazing videos. The Frenetic Kinetic’s video will add a new dimension to the things your kids can do with this challenge!
Make a creative domino line with as many dominoes as you have around.
Then do it a second time adding in other materials such as craft sticks, string, straws, paper and/or various items of your choice. This video will inspire your kids to be creative!
THIS is an amazing Domino Line!
Engineering Challenge: Make Your Own Car
The challenge is to make a car that rolls!
If your kids need some material ideas have them gather a toilet paper roll, tea candles, Q-Tips, paint and other things from around the house!
Duct Tape Engineering Challenge
Set a roll of duct tape on the table. Ask the kids to create something practical… anything from a wallet or purse to duct tape shoes!
Marshmallow Tower Engineering Challenge
Challenge your kids to think creatively with this quick activity.
Build as tall a tower as you can with marshmallows and straws… or with small marshmallows and toothpicks.
This was what the kids did when they were 2, 4 and 7:
A related engineering challenge: Create your own marshmallow dinosaur!
Consider this as you make your creation: Why is the tail important?
Silverware Tower Engineering Challenge
Build the tallest tower you can with silverware. Surprisingly, ED (age 4) was the first to assemble something that stood upright. After that LD took the lead. These challenges are supposed to get kids to work together, but in this particular challenge the kids and I all worked on our own towers.
Engineering Challenge: Build a Post-It Note Tower!
The challenge is to build a post-it note tower at least 10 inches tall
Engineering Challenge: Build an Index Card Tower!
The challenge was to build a post-it note tower at least 10 inches high out of index cards and no more than 10 inches of tape that can support an “animal.”
Make a Boat that can Float!
Using material you have around the house build your own sail boat and test it out! How much weight can it hold?
Engineering Challenge: Create your own Marble Run
Use materials you have around the house!
This was one DD made when she was 8 or 9. 🙂
And this was a marble maze the kids made another time:
They each took a big piece of cardboard, sticks (or whatever) and a glue-gun and went to work!
The sticks were quite a challenge to glue down. It would probably be easier with wooden dowels or project blocks or something. Even aluminum foil (which could be bent into various shapes) would work well!
There was a really cool version that was popular on Pinterest this past holiday season that used candy canes instead of sticks! 🙂
Egg Drop Challenge
We’ve done this a number of times. It’s always super popular and fun!!
Build a parachute that can safely transport objects down from a 12 foot drop.
Supplies you might provide: cups, yarn, tape, plastic bags, scissors, and a hole puncher.
They got busy building and testing their parachutes out with coins.
I’m happy to report all eggs survived the drop!
Egg Drop Challenge
Create a way for an egg to drop safely to the ground. This was another version the kids made one time.
If you are interested in doing even more egg-tivities, be sure to grab our free Egg-speriment Packet
Engineering Challenge: Make your own flashlight!
One time, the girls went to an engineering camp. They made these really neat flashlights. It probably wouldn’t be too difficult to gather the materials to do this project at home, so I thought I’d share a picture of their light. It was made with batteries, wires, a small light bulb, brad, aluminum foil, paperclips (on top of the battery to connect the wire to the battery). It turns on when they place a paperclip across the two brads. Neat, right?!
If this sounds fun, you might want to check out our Electricity and Circuits STEM Unit! We did a number of hands-on activities exploring paper circuits, art bots and more! We learned about things like batteries, volts, amps, ohms, electrical circuits: power source, load, conductor, simple circuits, direct and alternating current (DC and AC), resistance, resistors and how they work, anode, cathode, electrical symbols and more!
We’re going to be moving on to paper circuits this week! Fun!
Make your own window blinds
Most every house has curtains or window blinds to keep the heat or cold at bay.
Window blinds made from horizontal slats were developed as we know them in 1794. They received the name Venetian blinds because they originally came from Venice, Italy. These Venetian blinds replaced or were used instead of fabric curtains or shutters.
Can you make your own set of window blinds that opens and closes?
Use a cereal box to create your window, then use these supplies to make a set of blinds that opens and closes: index cards, string or yarn, paper clips, straws or other materials you find around the house.
Think Outside the Box!
Set the timer for two minutes. Write down all of the things that you can do with a brick and a blanket!
Now come up with two other random things and think of all the things you can do with those items!
If you liked this challenge, you might enjoy some of the other questions in this free printable:
You might also like this post on Critical Thinking Activities and Math Circles
Here are some of the Engineering Challenges the kids have on the horizon:
I’ll add in pictures as we get to these or share your pictures here and I’ll add your kids’ projects to the post!
Make your own Windmill
Read The Boy who Harnessed the Wind and/or watch the video below!
The first challenge: Make your own pin wheel.
The second challenge: Make a windmill that works outside.
Give the kids a hammer, nails, a board and yarn and have them create their own piece of art!
Watermill Engineering Challenge
Water wheels have been used through history. In ancient china, waterwheels were used to power the bellows of the blast furnace.
Waterwheels gained widespread use in the Middle Ages when an acute shortage of labor made machines such as the water wheel cost effective. Waterwheels were used to power various types of mills including grist mills (for corn), sawmills and others.
Engineering Challenge: Build the longest cantilever you can!
Materials: Use a bag of straws or a box of spaghetti plus a roll of scotch tape to build the longest cantilever you can!
A cantilever is a rigid structure anchored at one end. (Think of a diving board as an example.)
Simple Machines Unit
If your kids are in elementary, they might enjoy doing a Simple Machines unit. This is such a fun hands-on unit… using wedges, leavers, pulleys and more! You can find out more about this unit here: Simple Machines Unit
Since my kids are now a bit older, I bought a couple of new STEM resources. These two books are packed with engaging hands-on activities.
- STEM Labs for Middle Grades
- The Science Teacher’s Activity-a-Day – My kids will be doing the genetics activities suggested in this book later this week! 🙂
You might be interested in this related post:
Do you all know about these Free Engineering Units? Our family has used a number of these and they are truly wonderful. They might be really fun for summertime… there are units on bubbles, rockets, and much more! They have free units for Grades 3-5 and for Grades 6-8.
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Happy Homeschooling! ~Liesl
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