Here at Science Sparks we believe you’re never too young to develop a passion for science, engineering and learning and so have pulled together a collection of simple engineering projects for kids to inspire even the youngest potential engineer.
Did you know the word ‘engine’ comes from the Latin ingenium which means clever? Engineering is all about inventing things to make life easier and better, solving problems with science and mathematics.
The world of engineering is vast and the possibilities endless with advances in nanotechnology, bioengineering, AI and other technologies. With a global climate crisis and ageing population the human race needs engineers more than ever.
Fun engineering projects for kids
Structures and Stability
Edible engineering challenges
I know not everyone likes edible experiments, but if you can eat them afterwards and avoid food waste I think they are a great way to learn and often something children remember for a long time afterwards.
Edible candy house
This edible house has candy walls built with different kinds of edible ‘cement’ to stick it together. We found thick icing sugar was the best way to attach the bricks to each other.
If you don’t want to build a whole house but like the idea of an edible activity simple towers made from sweets also work well, opening up the opportunity for discussion about choosing the best shapes for a stable structure.
These meringue towers were also great fun and a delicious dessert.
Foundations and Earthquakes
If you have an earthquake topic coming up this earthquake investigation using gum drop toothpick towers with different edible foundations is a fun activity to try. Will a jelly foundation or a brownie foundation be the strongest?
Strong Shape Investigations
Discover why domes are a strong shape using egg shells. Can you think of any structures which use domes for strength?
Find out why an egg can be almost unbreakable in certain circumstances.
How about building stable structures using spaghetti and marshmallows? Incorporating triangle shapes will make these stronger.
Experiment with different shape paper columns to find out which is the strongest shape.
Make your own paper building blocks like Babble Dabble Do.
Bridge Building Engineering Project for Kids
Left Brain, Craft Brain has an amazing DIY suspension bridge. I love the use of loom bands.
Try this simple bridge building engineering task using paper folded in different ways.
This bridge with string and craft sticks was great fun to build and can be set up as a challenge using different materials for the bridge base.
Properties of materials
Engineers have to understand the properties of different materials and consider how they behave in different situations. There are lots of brilliant engineering projects where this concept can be introduced.
First learn how to classify objects by the material they’re made from. How can you tell the difference between a metal and a non metal for example?
Learn about elasticity by adding different weights to an elastic band to investigate how far it stretches.
Find out which materials work best for muffling sound with a fun activity using a cardboard tube with different materials inside it.
Design and choose the best materials to make a boot waterproof.
Find out which materials make the best superhero cape? If you were a superhero would you want a long flowing cape or a shorter cape that didn’t move so much?
Discover how to stand on a paper cup without it breaking! This is also a great activity to link with a topic about Greek Architecture!
Design and build a house for the Three Little Pigs that can withstand the wolf trying to blow it down. The challenge here is to think abut which materials will withstand the wolf’s puff!
Another idea is to test different materials to find out which would be best for a waterproof roof!
Find out how to move water upwards with this fun Archimedes Screw.
This bouncy ball invention is genius from Inspiration Laboratories.
Design and build a drinks dispenser using the power of air pressure.
Vehicles – engineering investigations
You only need paper, scissors and a paperclip to make these easy paper helicopter spinners. Experiment with different size spinners to find out if they fall faster or more slowly.
Create a bumper for a car with this bumper car STEM challenge. For this activity little engineers need to think about which materials to choose to get the most rebound back from the car.
Design and build a balloon powered car. This is a brilliant activity for learning about forces and Newton’s Third Law. Once you’ve got it working, try to supercharge it with extra balloon power!
Or, how about a baking soda boat? For this engineering challenge you need to think about how to release the gas produced by the baking soda and vinegar reaction to get the most thrust from the bottle boat.
Rockets are an incredible feat of engineering. Mini bottle rockets use the same basic concepts to launch that a real rocket uses and are another great introduction to Newton’s Laws of Motion.
Red Ted Art also has a fantastic elastic band powered tugboat.
Ideas for learning about pneumatics
We had great fun designing this K’nex pneumatic crane using two syringes and a tube.
We also used the same concept to make a chicken hatch out of an egg!
More fun engineering projects for kids
Try one of these easy catapults using just lolly sticks, elastic bands and a milk carton top.
Practice your design skills with this cardboard kitchen. What fun gadgets and tools can you engineer?
Frugal fun for Boys have lots of wonderful creative ideas for budding engineers, one of our favourites is this LEGO Candy Dispenser.
Engineering projects for little ones
We love this sand and pipe engineering bin from Little Bins for Little Hands.
Happy Hooligans has a cardboard construction set that looks fantastic and so simple.
This play dough and straw spiderweb from Rainy Day Mum looks like great fun.
Try some building with playdough and wooden blocks like Fun with Play at Home.
Last Updated on August 10, 2022 by Emma Vanstone