Fun 20-Minute Engineering Activities for Kids

Are you wondering what to do with the kids while the weather is snowy and cold? These engineering activities will challenge your kids to think outside the box!

Our family is learning about earthquakes and spent several days learning about what building engineers do. We learned how engineers design earthquake resistant buildings and how building codes have helped protect people during times of natural disaster. The kids then had to think about the design process and build their own structures.

Index Card Tower Challenge:

Here is the scenario: The kids' favorite stuffed animal is in danger of being eaten by a fierce crocodile! Challenge your kids to build a tower that is 10 inches off the ground using index cards and just 12 inches of tape. You might model several different ways to build with index cards first -- rolling them, folding them, or cutting them and fitting them together. Then tell the kids they have twenty minutes to build their tower.

It was great listening to the kids talk with each other about their design ideas. They each tried a couple different options, but quickly got busy building their structures.

Then came the tense moment. Were their towers tall enough? Would their towers support the stuffed animal? DD's tower measured in at 12 inches and though the tower swayed a bit, she was able to let it go and the tower held up!

My son had a pyramid design. He reasoned that the broad base would help distribute the weight and it would be more stable. His tower was just tall enough and also passed the engineering challenge!

Post-It Note Challenge:

For this second engineering activity, all you need is Post-It notes -- one pack per child... no tape, no other materials. Their challenge? To build a tower that is as tall as possible in the allotted time. I gave the kids twenty minutes, but once they got going they realized this wouldn't be enough and asked for more time. We added in another ten minutes.

At first, I just let them explore and see what they could do. The kids go pretty side tracked with the fact that the Post-It notes fan out.

When I realized they were trying to stick the notes to the ceiling so that they would extend down to the floor, I sat down with them to see what other ideas we could come up with for building a tower from the ground up! Once they got the hang of it, they tried all different options for putting the notes together and settled on a "flowered" pattern. They worked together as a team and did a great job with their tower!

The benefit of doing these activities? The kids worked together as a team. They were creative and tested out different options. They had fun! We hope your kids have fun with these activities!

Liesl homeschools her three elementary age kids and loves finding creative, hands-on activities and great books to share with her kids. Check out her blog at homeschoolden.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.

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