In honor of Engineers Week, February 21-27, we present a variety of hands-on engineering-related activities and lesson plans for your classroom. With these activities, you will help your students grasp engineering principles and their applications in the real world, while potentially inspiring rewarding career pursuits.
Resources included at these links include detailed teacher instructions and material lists, as well as informational hand-outs for students, with illustrations, diagrams and often accompanying videos. All activity ideas are organized by grade level.
Elementary School Projects
For grades K-2:
Putting It All Together
In this activity, students use Lego blocks to create and evaluate different types of structures, learning the basic concepts involved with building and design.
For grades 2-6:
Engineering a Mountain Rescue Litter
Trying their hands at Biomedical Engineering, students use common household materials such as baggies, popsicle sticks and straws to construct a rescue litter that is stable, lightweight, low-cost, portable, and sturdy enough to carry a simulated human (potato).
For grades 1-5:
The Engineering is Elementary (EiE) Curriculum from Boston’s Museum of Science offers several engaging science activities. These learning units cost $50.
In addition, we’d like to include two lesson plans that are not technically “hands-on,” but are popular with elementary school children, due to their intriguing topics:
For grades 3-5:
Waste Disposal Engineering Solutions
Students use Internet resources to explore the side effects of technology, and then design, implement and evaluate solutions for waste disposal.
For grades 3-5:
Animals and Engineering
This lesson is part of a series of six, in which students use their growing understanding of various environments and the engineering design process, to design and create their own model biodome ecosystems.
Middle School Projects
Building a Water Clock
It sounds complicated, but can be accomplished by middle school students using simple materials such as soft drink bottles and graduated cylinders. Students will learn about the water clock mechanism operation, while applying critical thinking to evaluate design improvements.
Engineering is Elementary (EiE) from the Museum of Science in Boston brings us a variety of wonderful real-world engineering challenges for grades 6-8, all of which may be downloaded for free:
Design Squad® is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning PBS series that provides hands-on engineering challenges to bolster students’ understanding of electricity, sound and force units. There are three separate activities included in this free Teachers’ Guide.
High School Projects
Angular Velocity: Sweet Wheels
Students analyze the relationship between wheel radius, linear velocity and angular velocity by using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robots.
Mars Rover App Creation
Your students become software engineers and use the engineering design process to develop a
vehicle like the Mars rover Curiosity, again using LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robots, controlled by a student-designed Android app.
Yes, I’m a Rocket Scientist
In this lesson, students analyze a model rocket's design and flight, compared to a real rocket.
Berry Organic Solar Energy
High school students working in teams of four build their own organic solar cells to learn how a device made with dye from berries can be used to convert light energy into electrical energy.
Do you see shining engineering potential among your students? Nominate them to test-drive an engineering future with Envision’s NYLF Engineering & Technology program (for high school)!
Younger students may enjoy a broader look at the STEM fields, with:
One of our missions at Envision is to put learning back in the hands of the students, giving real-world relevance to lessons, while helping students discover their passions. We invite you to share in the effort, and post your own Engineering Week ideas in our Comments section.