Engineering Activities for Kids
We are engineers who love engineering, and we want more kids to love engineering too! We have created this page as a resource for anyone who wants fun ways to introduce children to basic engineering concepts that relate to the systems we develop here at EPIC. Below we have downloadable instructions, supply lists and key concepts for each experiment. We also found some mini-engineers to demonstrate some of these at-home experiment.
Mini-Engineering Day Video
Photos from the event are available in the mini-engineering day gallery.
STEM Activities for Kids
Activities from Mini-Engineer Day
- Aluminum Foil Boat Challenge
- Use boat design principles to create an aluminum foil boat that holds pennies.
- Supply list | Key Concepts and directions | Boat Picture Collection
- Derby Car Design Workshop
- Use engineering drawings & 3D modeling to design a race car.
- Supply list | Concepts and directions | Car Design Sheet |
- Helpful video about derby car design principles
- Solvent Experiment
- Explore solvents and how they differ from chemical reactions.
- Supply list | Concepts and directions
- Interview An Engineer
- Learn about engineering and engineering careers.
- Activity Sheet | Engineering Careers Sheets | Supply List & Directions
Basics of Batch Mixing Systems for Kids
The fun part of this video is that the mini-engineers did this experiment sitting in front a big batch mixing system we had here at EPIC earlier this year! The basic concepts is pretty simple: mix two things to get a third one, but this concept is how many every-day products are made.
Our experiment also includes directions that have you start with a clear “base” liquid – a common term in manufacturing plants for a base mixture of the main ingredients of a product, that is later customized with coloring and fragrances during individual product runs on the line. For example, a cleaning product may have the same base formula, but it comes in many scents: wildberry, apple orchard, vanilla, etc. The scents and colors that make up “apple orchard” get added to the base cleaning formula in a batch mixing system.
Try this experiment at home! Step-by-step directions and supply list.
Fun add-ins: You could do this simple experiment many ways: glitter water, juices instead of colored water so the participants can drink their experiment at the end, just as long as you use two different colored substances that you can clearly see result in a third color. You could even combine this with a density experiment where after mixing the batch together, your experimenters drop different objects in to see if they will float or sink.
For pictures and further information on how real batch mixing systems work, visit our batch mixing systems page.
Batch Reaction Experiment
We found this fun experiment online, called elephant toothpaste, and adapted it to a common process that EPIC’s grown-up engineers deal with all the time – batch reactions! Directions, supplies and takeaways listed below the video.
Try this experiment at home! Step-by-step directions and supply list.
Fun ways to change it: If you order industrial strength hydrogen peroxide (6%), the reaction will be much more dramatic. Also, you can always add glitter or sequins to the hydrogen peroxide – before you mix in the yeast, and that will result in sparkly toothpaste.
For pictures and further information on how real batch mixing systems work, visit our batch reaction systems page.
Best-of Outtakes Video
Some of the cutest moments from our other videos compiled into one adorable preview video.
First participants learned about the basics of chemical reactions. Then proceeded to the structure of polystyrene, and how when exposed to a solvent such as acetone a reaction occurs. Changing the chemical structure.exposed to the solvent acetone, a reaction occurs and changes that chemical structure.
How to make this happen: Each participant will get some packing peanuts and a straw. The students will put on gloves and safety glasses, and melt their packing peanuts in the acetone. They can remold the melted material into a new shape, creating a statue they can take home.
Other engineering & STEM experiments for kids:
- Homemade Battery – with some simple supplies from the local hardware store, help from an adult, and a voltage meter you can make a battery at home. The webpage has step-by-step directions and helps you build something very similar to batter inventory Alessandro Volta’s first battery. Shout-out to Ashley & Ava, who recommended this one to us!
- Lava-lamp Reaction & Density experiment: This experiment demonstrates a simple batch reaction and can also be used to show how objects with different densities float or sink. Also, the kids get a cute toy at the end of the experiment.
- Distillation experiment: There is a nifty, flash video that explains distillation here. There is an actual distillation demonstration that they did, but it is not easily to replicate and shouldn’t be done at home. But – it’s still super impressive and the video above does a great job explaining distillation in a way older children might understand:
- Pop rocks & Pepsi or Baking soda & Vinegar Reaction experiments. Both of these are great demonstrations of a reaction and the invisible by-product of the reaction (CO2), as well as a demonstration of how gasses expand. You can also do the baking soda and vinegar one in a ziplock, and explode a bag.
- Bernoulli principle for pre-schoolers: This one is taking something fun and easy to do, and connecting it to a fundamental principle that explains why 450 ton airplanes can fly, the Bernoulli principle. The principle can be basically summed up as “Airplanes fly because the pressure above the wing is less than the pressure below the wing.” This site (Lift) has some great explanations and two different experiments for demonstrating Newton’s third law of motion vs. the Bernoulli principle.
- Milk and Red Bull reaction & precipitate experiment: Another interesting reaction experiment to try at home, with a slightly different twist. Great for discussing the role of acids and bases, or even proteins in chemical reactions.
- Magic water bag trick – this simple experiment is a fun demonstration of pressure and the properties of plastic.
Resources from around the web:
- PBS Kids science experiments (excellent resource): http://pbskids.org/zoom/activities/sci/
- 40 STEM activities for kids from Playdoh to Plato: http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/stem-activities-for-kids/
- Engineering projects for kids: http://iexplorestem.org/engineering-activities
- Science experiments for kids: http://www.sciencekiddo.com/
- Six science experiments inspired by Big Hero 6 Female Scientists Honey Lemon & GoGo Tomago: http://www.themakermom.com/2014/12/big-hero-6-science-2.html
- E is for Explore – full of great STEM activities for kids: http://eisforexplore.blogspot.ca/
- Come Together for Kids – crafts, games and experiments for kids: http://www.cometogetherkids.com