Today you are going to be an engineer. And no, I don’t mean the driver of a train (although that would be pretty cool). Before we can be an engineer, we need to learn what and engineer is. We’ll also learn not only what they do but how they think. Engineering has as much to do with thinking and planning as it does doing and building.
Jesse has a problem: Think like an Engineer!– Primary (K-2)
What is an Engineer?– Intermediate (3-5)
Experiment Time: Time to be an Engineer!
Now that you know what an engineer is and how they think, it’s your turn to be an engineer. The “materials” you’ll be using are LEGOs. You just learned that engineers always start with a problem. They think about what the problem is, who needs the problem solved, and why is it important that the problem be solved. For today’s challenge, you’ll be choosing a problem, thinking about it like an engineer and then working to come up with a solution. You can come up with your own problem or use some of the following suggestions for inspiration:
- You are a chicken farmer who lives in an area with foxes. You want your chickens to be able to be outside, but you also need to keep them safe. How can you keep them safe and allow them to be outside?
- You are an explorer and you’ve just settled on new land. The area is very windy. You need some kind of protection for your animals and crops from the wind.
- There is a small island that has about 200 people living on it. They need a way to get to the mainland. They currently have a bridge that is elevated about 10 feet above sea level, but it floods easily, making the bridge impassable. They’ve hired you to engineer and build something that will help them solve their problem of being able to get to and from the mainland.
- You’re sitting in your favorite chair and you’re feeling lazy. The TV remote has fallen on the floor and it’s about 2 feet away from you– too far to lean over and get it without getting up. What could you design and build to solve this problem?
- You are mayor of Lego Town. Your town has a very busy Main Street. The way your town is designed, the local school and community park and playground is on one side of the street and the majority of the houses are on the other side of the street. It’s currently not safe for kids and people to cross the street. Design and build something to solve this problem.
- Your Barbie doll or favorite action figure (think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, Captain America, GI Joe, etc) needs something to sit on. Design and build something that is fit for them, keeping in mind how big they are, how their body bends, etc.
- For those of you who have a small nerf gun: You want to practice you skills. You’re pretty good at hitting a target that is stationary (doesn’t move) and are ready for a bit of a challenge. Design and build a target that is more challenging. (Think about ways you can get a target to move: could it move back and forth? could it spin?)
Once you’ve chosen your problem, get to work! Remember, an engineer doesn’t just start building. They first spend time thinking about the problem. Once they have some ideas about a solution, they start by drawing or planning. Finally they start actually building it. And remembers, engineers often have to tweak their designs and project along the way. We’d love to see a picture of what you’ve made!
Extension Resources & Activities
Sesame Street: Let’s Discover Engineering Click on the title to access. For grades Preschool-2nd.
Engineering for Kids by Science Kids Click on the title to access. For grades 3rd & above.
Engineer Girl Click on the title to access. This site if perfect for girls to explore the world of engineering!