Engineering sciences bring science, math, and even art together to design and construct structures and solve problems! It refers to the practical application of knowledge and design to achieve solutions to human problems and is incredibly diverse! Engineers are constantly building on past knowledge and success in order to improve and further develop structures, technologies, machines and much more – almost everything we use has been developed!
Problem solving is at the center of engineering! For example, engineers will:
- Questions – Define Problem
- Just imagine – brainstorm ideas and choose the best ones
- Plan – Draw a diagram and collect materials
- Create – plan and test to follow
- Improve – Discuss and review possible improvements
Katehie and colleagues (2009) believe that through this process children can develop the following skills: systems thinking, creativity, optimism and cooperation that are essential for life in the 21st century.st Century!
This means being able to recognize the interrelationships in the world – ie to learn that a change in one system or structure can have an impact on another. Basically, it reinforces the concept of cause and effect, but on a larger level, and makes children realize that actions can have consequences that are not obvious or immediately visible!
The process of brainstorming ideas and creating a plan in engineering is a great example of creativity! It’s important to remember outside of literacy, music, or the arts, etc., that creativity can be explored in other areas – even the STEM world!
Engineering, as I said, is a process of improvement and problem solving – when children take part in engineering activities they begin to realize how many possibilities and opportunities there are in each task or challenge! By participating in these activities, you will build stamina and confidence. This helps children develop a sense of self-efficacy that has a profound impact on their further development
The cooperation, the exchange of ideas and the solicitation of the opinions and perspectives of others are an essential part of the technical challenges! It’s a great way to develop collaboration and social / communication skills in young children.
So what are some engineering activities ?!
Follow the links on these pages for some of our favorite activities to do at home!
The challenge is to build a foil boat out of drinking straws and a foil!
Create a deck of cards with different structures (bridge, ramp, pyramid, tallest building possible!) To build blocks of all shapes and sizes with one set.
Cheng, J. (2008). Get children excited about technology. The technology teacher, 67(7), 26.
DiFrancesca, D., Lee, C. & McIntyre, E. (2014). Where is the “E” in STEM for young children? Engineering training in an elementary school teacher preparation program. Teacher Education Issues, 23(1), 49.
Latham, D. & Vaughn, J. (2012). Bridges and tunnels: investigating the art of engineering with 25 projects. Vermont: Nomad Press.