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Engineering Lessons: Preschool – 5th grade

STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) lessons are adaptable to various developmental levels of students. Grades noted next to descriptions are mere recommendations.

Ant Strength

Students will observe intricate images of ant colonies, learn about the body structure and unique characteristics of an ant and then implement the engineering design process to construct an ant capable of holding a designated amount of weight.

1st–5th grade

Architect! (Inspired by the children’s book by Angela Beatty, Iggy Peck Architect)

Students will implement the engineering design process and complete a design challenge inspired by Iggy Peck.

Preschool–5th grade

Big Box Mazes

Students will construct a maze with found objects. There will be obstacles that must be incorporated in their design when getting an object from point A to point B.

Preschool–5th grade

Bobblehead Challenge

Students will implement the engineering design process and design a working bobblehead.

1st–5th grade

Bristlebot!

Students will build a vibrating robot from toothbrushes that will then be used in various ways to perform simple challenges.

1st–5th grade

Build an Earthquake Proof Home

Students will discover how the earth relieves stress through volcanoes and earthquakes. They’ll put their engineering and architectural skills to the test by building an earthquake proof home.

2nd–5th grade

Cars from the Future

Students will brainstorm alternate ways to power a vehicle to reduce emissions. Student teams will design an eco-friendly car using the engineering design process, and make a presentation to showcase their product.

2 class periods recommended.

2nd–5th grade

Designed by Nature

Students will discover how engineers can use biomimicry to enhance their designs. They learn how the careful observation of nature—becoming a nature detective, so to speak—can lead to new innovations and products. In this activity, students reverse engineer a flower to glean design ideas for new products.

1st–5th grade

Engineer! (Inspired by the children’s book by Angela Beatty, Rosie Revere, Engineer!)

Students examine the components of a paper helicopter and then design and construct their own working paper helicopter.

Prekindergarten–3rd grade

Engineer A Seed

Students will handle and observe a variety of seeds, discover why some sink, float and are carried by wind, then construct a seed from found objects that mimics a seed in nature.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Engineering Derby

Student teams will be challenged to navigate a table tennis ball through a timed obstacle course using only the provided unconventional “tools.” Teams act as engineers by working through the steps of the engineering design process to complete the overall task, with each group member responsible to accomplish one of the obstacle course challenges.

Preschool–5th grade

Goldilocks Engineers a Chair!

Students find inspiration from this classic story to then implement the engineering design process to design and construct a chair given certain parameters.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Humpty Dumpty Egg Drop

Students find inspiration from this classic story to then implement the engineering design process to design and construct a container to safely drop an egg from a given height.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Inquiry and Engineering Gliders

Student teams will implement the engineering design process and design, build and test small-sized gliders to maximize flight distance.

3rd–5th grade

Insulate An Ice Cube

Students will implement the engineering design process to design and construct a container to insulate an ice cube.

1st–5th grade

Marshmallow Catapult

Students will construct a marshmallow catapult and experiment with trajectory.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Mars Lander

Students will design and build a shock-absorbing system for their astronaut to land safely on Mars.

2 class periods recommended.

1st–5th grade

Mystery Bag Challenges

Students will be given a bag of tools and a challenge. They will work in teams to complete the challenge with the tools given.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Lego Balloon Car!

Students will study velocity by designing and testing a Lego Balloon car.

1st–5th grade

Live Like a Cactus

Students will be introduced to water conservation by learning about plant drought tolerance, how cacti have adapted to the desert environment and come up with some of their own designs based on these observations.

1st–5th grade

Oil Spill

Students will examine the environmental effects of oil in a lake and shoreline, then perform an oil spill clean up.

2nd–5th grade

Play With Your Food! – Candy Architecture

Students will explore geometry while constructing towers and structures with sticks and candy.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Puffmobile

Students will design and construct a working vehicle that moves by wind power.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Rock No Roll

Students will design and build a device that will rock back and forth without rolling away when blown on it through a straw.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Sail Away

Students will implement the engineering design process to create a sail to help move a “boat” across the water using their breath as the wind.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Solar Ovens

Students construct a working solar oven and learn about solar energy.

1st–5th grade

Spool Racer

Students will design vehicles to explore how elastic potential energy from twisted rubber bands can roll the spools. They brainstorm, prototype, modify, test and redesign variations to the basic spool racer design in order to meet different design criteria.

2nd–5th grade

STEM a Bird Beak!

Students will comprehend that birds have physically adapted in relation to their type of food supply and deduce what beaks are most efficient for given foods by experimenting with imitation beaks and creating beaks out of supplies.

1st–5th grade

STEM Nest!

Students will observe a variety of nests then put their engineering skills to the test. Finding inspiration in nature, students will design and construct a nest.

Preschool–5th grade

Stomp Rockets

Students will explore air pressure, Newton’s laws of motion, mass, gravity by constructing working stomp rockets.

3rd–5th grade

Tennis Ball Lift

Students will implement the engineering design process and construct a simple machine.

Preschool–5th grade

Three Little Engineers

Students will construct homes and towers with magic noodles that can withstand the power of wind from a fan.

Preschool–2nd grade

Velcro Case Study

Students begin with a Case Study of biomimicry focused on Velcro technology, then construct physical replicas of burrs (the design inspiration for Velcro) and work in teams to run a relay race where they pick up and drop off their burr models using a ball of string.

3rd–5th grade

Watercraft

Students will design and build a boat out of specific materials designed for a specific challenge.

Prekindergarten–5th grade

Water Wheel

Students will design and build a working water wheel and calculate how much work is being performed by it.

3rd–5th grade

Wet Suit for the Gingerbread Man!

Students will design and create a wet suit for their gingerbread man or animal so it will stay dry when dunked in water for 10 seconds.

Preschool–5th grade

Windy City

Students will measure wind speed and construct a building that can withstand strong winds.

Preschool–5th grade
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