Activities for programs, families, and youth for additional engineering and STEM at home.
Activity: Think Like an Engineer - This activity book of engineering challenges provides an introduction to the skills and process used by engineers. Activities are coded to indicate which of four features of engineering they focus on: Logic, creativity, math, experiment.
Reflection: Thinking Like an Engineer - Completing this short survey is a simple way for students to reflect on their own engineering mindset development.
Activity: TGR Foundation DIY Design Challenges - This series of five DIY, family-friendly projects in English and Spanish use ordinary household items to keep kids engaged and still learning.
Acivity: EngineerGirl Try This! Design Challenge - These are hands-on activities using common household items. Challenges include: design a mini catapult, paper airplane, and sorting machine.
Website: Girlstart STEM at Home - created by Girlstart to empower families and communities in STEM. Find free Girlstart curriculum, STEM resources, effective messaging tips, collaboration opportunities. Join the Girlstart newsletter and receive updated information on other online resources.
Activity: Engineering Design Activities on Curiosity Machine - Sign up for hundreds of FREE Technovation Engineering Design Activities with facilitation instructions and videos featuring STEM professionals and mentors.
Engineering Mindset 1: Using a Systematic Problem-Solving Process
Video: Kid Engineer - The Design Process - In this Design Squad video, a group of young engineers use the engineering design process to design a bike trailer for groceries.
Video: The Engineering Design Process: A Taco Party - This witty video describes the steps of the engineering design process by likening it to throwing an impromptu taco party. It uses a fun example to describe the problem solving process engineers use.
Activity: Time for Design - In this lesson, students are introduced to the engineering design process, focusing on the concept of brainstorming design alternatives. Students come to realize that they can be engineers and use the design process themselves to create tomorrow's innovations.
Activity: Introduction to the Engineering Design Process - This activity is an introductory lesson that asks students to design a marshmallow tower. Students are introduced to the engineering design process and compare it to the process they used to create their marshmallow tower.
Activity Worksheets: Engineering Design Process - This set of worksheets can be used with any engineering challenge. They walk students through the design process by providing space for recording data and consideration of each step.
Activity: Building Bridges 4-H STEM Lab Activity | 4-H (4-h.org) - In this activity, youth will apply STEM to community issues through the engineering design process and the basic mechanics behind building bridges while designing their own bridge. This is a spin on an activity frequently seen in afterschool programs but with a serious focus on the design process. Kids re-visit the hands-on experience with new meaning.
Activity: Educator Guide: Robotic Arm Challenge | NASA/JPL Edu - This activity is part of NASA’s Engineering in the Classroom tool for educators! In this challenge, students will use a model robotic arm to move items from one location to another as they engage in the engineering design process to design, build, and operate the arm.
Engineering Mindset 2: Exploring the Properties and Uses of Materials
Activity: Materials and Manufacturing - In this activity based on the story of the three little pigs, students examine the properties, limitations, and durability of a variety of materials, then evaluate which of the materials would be best for building a model house.
Activity: The Property of Materials and Their Everyday Uses - This resource provides a number of simple tests that educators can perform with young learners to investigate material properties.
Engineering Mindset 3: Considering Real-World Problems
Activity: Engineering Solutions to Freshwater Problems - In this activity, students are introduced to six freshwater supply problems in various locations around the world. Students brainstorm their own ideas for solving each problem and then learn about the specific solutions that engineers have proposed.
Activity: Community Engineering - This website provides engineering challenges that are community-based and includes learning modules on topics like school gardening, classroom renovation, and designing an accessible playground.
Activity: EiE Storybooks - Every Engineering is Elementary (EiE) unit starts with a storybook that sets the context for the hands-on engineering design challenge. This set includes 20 engaging storybooks about a child who solves a real-world problem through engineering. EiE storybooks integrate literacy and social studies with your engineering and science lessons—and help students understand how STEM subjects are relevant to their lives.
Activity: Race for the Planet: Spring ’21 Edition | Project Green Schools - Project Green Schools has selected a sampling of activities from their larger program to give your students a way to apply environmental education to community issues. Join the coastal cleanup challenge, the upcycle challenge, the scavenger hunt, or other activities as a group or individually.
Engineering Mindset 4: Criteria and Constraints
Activity: Defining Problems, Criteria and Constraints - This activity is designed to help students understand how criteria and constraints limit potential solutions to problems. It includes a practice worksheet to help students identify criteria and constraints in 4 simple scenarios.
Activity: Criteria and Constraints Practice - This worksheet requires students to identify criteria and constraints embedded in rules for entering a gingerbread house contest.
Video: NGSS Engineering at Jet Propulsion Laboratory - This video highlights what real NASA engineers need to consider when designing spacecraft and the kinds of trade offs they often have to make. Working collaboratively in teams to prioritize limited resources is a big part of working as a NASA engineer.
Engineering Mindset 5: Science and Math
Activity: Dance Pad Mania - A basic understanding of the science (electric circuits) is the first step in this fun challenge. Youth review and build their knowledge of electricity as they plan and design a dance pad that has lights and buzzer.
Activity: How High Can a Super Ball Bounce? - In this activity youth explore how engineers might use elasticity of material to help them design products. Working in pairs, they drop bouncy balls from a meter height and determine how high they bounce. Youth measure, record, and repeat the process to gather data to calculate average bounce heights and coefficients of elasticity.
Book: The Girl With a Mind For Math: The Story of Raye Montague - This NSTA outstanding science trade book from 2019 tells the story of how Raye Montegue, a girl with a mind for math, became a Navy engineer and how she fought sexism and racial inequality to achieve her goals.
Engineering Mindset 6: Multiple Solutions
Game: Teaching Kids to Think Outside the Box - This activity promotes creative brainstorming by challenging students to come up with as many uses as they can for common, household objects. Items include a paper towel roll, a ruler, and an elastic band.
Activity: Brainstorming Possible Solutions - This lesson can be applied to any engineering design challenge and provides a structure for eliciting many ideas from a group of students. This plan offers techniques to help students to keep open minds and encourage all ideas during brainstorming.
Activity: Brainstorming - This simple PPT slide outlines guidelines for brainstorming. Recording all ideas and creating an environment where all ideas are accepted are examples of the guidelines that can support students in their ability to generate multiple solutions to engineering problems.
Workshop: Brainstorm - This webpage is part of an online resource for parents and teachers who work with students on engineering projects. It provides tips and prompts that they can use with students to help structure a productive brainstorming session.
Engineering Mindset 7: Evaluating and Iterating Designs
Activity: On Target - In this activity, students are given a model of a zipline delivery system and are asked to modify or improve the technology so that will release a marble from a paper cup and hit a target.
Webpage: Build, Test, Evaluate and Redesign - This webpage provides free materials for educators to improve their engineering teaching. This section provides questions to help youth evaluate their designs and determine how to improve them.
Video: Iterative Design: How to solve a 'lion problem' - In this Ted Talk, Richard Turere, a young student from Kenya, describes the process he used to develop a system to protect his cows from lions. He describes the ways he improved and modified his original idea until he found a successful solution.
Engineering Mindset 8: Persisting Through and Learning From Failure
Activity: Flip That Flop! Turning Mistakes Into Opportunities - In this activity, students use a flip-flop template to write a description of a time they failed or made a mistake (the flop) and how they flipped that flop into an opportunity.
Poster: "Stick It Out - Even When It Gets Prickly" - A cactus-themed set of posters and classroom decorations that promote perseverance and a growth mindset.
Video: How to Succeed by Failing - Crash Course Kids - Engineers need things to fail so they can understand how to make things better. In this episode of Crash Course Kids, the host talks about failure points and how they can lead to better solutions to problems.
Engineering Mindset 9: Working Effectively in Teams
Activity: 10 Team Building Activities for Students - This blog outlines 10 team building activities that can be implemented to help youth develop the skills necessary to collaborate among peers. By accomplishing group tasks, students learn to listen, trust and support each other, while developing life skills such as communication and collaboration.
Activity/Video: K-5 STEM Team Building Activity - In this video, students participate in a simple team building activity. Using one finger each, students must work together to lift and stack plastic cups. The task requires concentration and communication and serves as a fun and rewarding introduction to the value of teamwork.
Blog: How STEM Lessons Help Teach Kids Productive Teamwork - This blog is written for parents to help them understand why so many of their children's STEM lessons are designed to be tackled by small groups, rather than individually. It clearly presents the benefits of group work in terms of communication, creativity, and perseverance.
Engineering Mindset 10: Identifying as Engineers
Video: Who Can Be an Engineer? You Can! - This short video shows a conversation between a teacher and her students as they begin to see themselves as engineers. The realization that students can one day play a role in the STEM workforce opens new doors for them.
Blog: Children's Books for Budding Engineers - This blog provides an engineering book list for middle school youth. It includes inspirational biographies of engineers, stories of women inventors, and fictional literature highlighting engineers.
Equity and Inclusion
Website: TryEngineering COVID-19 Response eLearning - TryEngineering has curated free resources available to support teachers and parents for learning at home.
Website: DiscoveryE at Home Engineering - Tips and advice for engaging youth in the engineering design process and how this youth-centered learning strategy can work for afterschool professionals and families at home.
Broadening Participation - Youth Centric Strategies for Practitioners
Framework: Engagement Practices - This framework from NCWIT that emphasized “well-structured collaborative learning” and the importance of peer led instruction.
Guide: SciGirls Family Guide for Engaging Girls - If you are looking for some fun, family friendly, yet educational STEM activities, SciGirls is here for you! Have fun designing a parachute or with a light bulb challenge at home.
Best Practices: Techbridge Essential Elements: - Techbridge Girls’ Essential elements are guiding principles for high-quality, equitable STEM programs for girls. These essential elements are based on Techbridge Girls’ 18 years of experience, their evaluation and research, and research from the field.
Diverse Role Models and Mentors
Student Activities: Girlstart STEM at Home - These activities were created by Girlstart to empower families and communities in STEM. Find free Girlstart curriculum, STEM resources, effective messaging tips, and collaboration opportunities. Join the Girlstart newsletter and receive updated information on other online resources.
Student Activities: EngineerGirl Try This! Design Challenge - These are hands-on activities using common household items. Challenges include: design a mini catapult, paper airplane, and sorting machine.
Student Activity: Design a Space Capsule - This activity amplifies four engineering mindset habits of practice: evaluate and iterate, persist and learn from failure, work in teams, and identify as engineers as students work through their engineering journal.
Student Activity: Engineer a Stringed Instrument - This activity amplifies three engineering mindset habits of practice: balancing criteria and constraints, apply science and math, and envisioning multiple solutions as students work through their engineering journal.
Student Activity: Toxic Popcorn Design Challenge - This lesson introduces youth to the engineering design process as youth work in teams to design both a product and process to safely remove “toxic” popcorn and save the city.
Student Activity: Engineering a Flotation Device - Youth use the engineering design process to design a device that uses simple chemical reactions to create a floatable device for a cell phone.
Student Activity: Design Your Own Snazzy Sneaker - Youth use the engineering design process to design an environmentally sustainable shoe that meets design requirements they specify.
Group Activity: Team Building for STEM Challenges - In this team building activity, youth work together to lift an object by using a set of strings attached to a center ring. Each student grabs a few strings and must work together to raise the item in the center. The task requires concentration and communication and introduces the value of teamwork.