Introducing engineering to kids can be a great way to encourage them to think about their future and give them a head start in their education.
Engineering is a field that requires creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. It can help spark an interest in science and maths-- which we can agree can play a role in success in today's world.
You don’t need to be an engineer yourself to introduce kids to engineering. And the introduction doesn't always have to be daunting and difficult. Activities like tinkering with LEGO or even simply building a block tower can teach basic engineering concepts.
In this blog, we’ll share ten tips on how you can introduce engineering to kids.
10 Ways to Introduce Engineering to Kids
1. Encourage Them to Ask Questions
One of the best ways to get kids interested in engineering is to encourage them to ask questions. When they see something, whether it's a toy, machine, or structure, encourage them to wonder how it works. Asking questions is the first step to getting kids to think like an engineer.
2. Make It Hands-On
Kids learn best when they're able to get their hands dirty and experiment. There are a lot of great ways to make learning about engineering fun and interactive. Try doing some simple projects, like building a fort out of blankets or constructing a simple machine out of recycled materials.
3. Find Engineering In Everyday Life
Engineering is all around us, even if we don't realize it. Point out examples of engineering in your daily life to show how engineers are responsible for the things we use and rely on every day.
You can find examples of engineering in the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the houses we live in, and the transportation we use.
4. Talk About How Engineers Make a Difference in the World
Like real-life superheroes, engineers find and create solutions to help us solve problems we encounter every day. When explaining engineering for kids, help them understand that engineers use their knowledge and skills to make the world a better place. Talk about how engineers are working to find new ways to generate energy, clean up the environment, and improve our health.
5. Explain What Engineers Actually Do
There are all sorts of engineers, from civil engineers to mechanical engineers to software engineers. These job titles and career paths may be too complicated or advanced for most kids to understand, so try to explain what engineers do in the terminology they comprehend.
There are kid-friendly engineering explainers or training videos you can watch together. By explaining what engineers do, you can help kids see how engineering is relevant to their lives.
6. Find Role Models
It can be helpful for kids to see that there are people just like them who are doing what they're interested in. There are children's books that can be great resources for finding females and other under-represented groups of engineers to serve as role models for your kids, such as:
- The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer (by Mara Rockliff)
- The Girl With A Mind For Math: The Story of Raye Montague (by Julia Finley Mosca)
- Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge (by Rachel Dougherty)
- Hedy Lamarr's Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor (by Laurie Wallmark)
7. Do Some Research Together
Research is a big part of being an engineer. So, if your kids are interested in learning more about engineering, do some research together. You can visit a local museum or engineering firm to get a closer look at what engineers do. Also, there are some cool websites that can provide you with snackable information about engineering for kids:
- https://www.funkidslive.com/ (for exploring an A to Z of everything engineering from acoustics to zoos)
- https://www.amightygirl.com/ (for a massive collection of books, toys, and movies references for aspiring woman engineers)
- https://www.engineeringforkids.club/ (for online training and courses)
- https://www.engineeringforkids.com/ (for after school programs, evening classes, camps, etc.)
8. Take Your Kids to See Some Cool Engineering Feats
A skyscraper, bridge, or dam can be really impressive to a child. Many cities have engineering landmarks that offer tours. Not to mention that it can be a fun day trip for the family. Seeing some of the amazing things engineers have created can spark goals to aspire to.
9. Encourage Them to Build with Sphero, littleBits or other Engineering Kits for Kids
Playing with Sphero is a great way to introduce engineering concepts to kids. It allows them to be creative and use their imagination while also learning about things like balance, weight, and structure. Sphero uses programmable robots and STEM kits to foster children’s creativity through discovery and play.
10. Most Importantly, Make It Fun
Above all, make learning about engineering fun for your kids. If they're having fun, they're more likely to be engaged and interested in what they're doing. Remember not to put too much pressure on them and let them learn at their own pace. Gaming apps help you make learning about engineering fun for your kids.
- Minecraft: Pocket Edition. (Android, iPhone, iPad)
- World of Goo (iPhone, iPad)
- Curiosity Machine (Website)
- Hopscotch: Coding for Kids. (iPhone, iPad)
- Crazy Gears (iPhone, iPad)
Engineering For Kids: Wrapping up
Starting early and making engineering fun can help kids develop a lifelong interest in this important field. It doesn't have to be difficult, and it can even be something that the whole family enjoys together. You can prepare the engineers of the future with just a little creativity and effort.
Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video production company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).
LinkedIn: Andre Oentoro
Opinions expressed by Sphero.com contributors are their own.