Introductory Engineering Design Challenges - momgineer

Introductory Engineering Design Challenges

Introduce Your Kids to the Engineering Design Process

These two STEM engineering challenges are a great way to introduce your kids to the engineering design process (EDP). If you haven't followed the EDP before, this is the perfect way to start. Want to know more about the process? These are the basic steps (click here to head to the post where you can download the graphic):

See the engineering design process in action here with a STEM fairy tale challenge (the steps will be the same).

The Engineering Design Process for Kids

The engineering design process is a way to solve problems in a methodical way. This simple, 5 step process will become second nature as you tackle more and more engineering design challenges.

STEM Challenge - Design a Transport Device

The first of the challenges is very basic: design a device to transport an object (where you don't use your hands at all). Two of the suggestions are to transport pencils and paperback books, and there are also suggestions for materials to use, though you can always use what you have on hand. All of these devices were made with paper, tape, cardboard tubes, string, and plastic cups.

Here is a fun design where the case slides back and forth. This one worked for both pencils and the books!

I love this idea to make a belt with a pencil holder! Here is the front:
and the back! It can be tied and untied. How fun!

Design a Tower STEM Activity

STEM engineering design challenge #2 is to design a power transmission tower. This challenge uses pipe cleaners, which are an interesting building material. They are fairly rigid but can be formed into other shapes by twisting and bending.
The warm up activity has tasks to introduce shaping the pipe cleaners. It's harder than it looks, and it is a great team building activity. This design challenge requires that the students take data in the form of measurements. The tower must fall in a height range (not too short or too tall), and must use a maximum of 50 pipe cleaners.
The towers might be on the simple side:

 ...or get really complicated!
You can always modify an engineering design challenge if it is proving to be too frustrating for your kids. We love using magnets for a quick recap/build in a lot of our building challenges!

Once you have worked through the EDP a few times, it will become more methodical and you can use it in future STEM challenges. If you have tried these challenges, I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.

Find more details by clicking on these resources:

STEM Engineering Challenge Design a Transport DeviceSTEM Engineering Challenge - Design a Tower

Educents TOP PICKS for January K-8

momgineer Meredith Anderson

STEM education is my passion!

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