10 Easy-to-Follow Engineering Activities for Kids

You've probably heard about how STEM toys and engineering activities for kids benefit their development.

That's absolutely true. Even better, it's never too early for your kids to reap the benefits of doing a STEM project. Today, most projects are specifically designed for different age groups - and most of the projects on this list are great for kids in their preschool age and older.

In this article, we'll show you why easy engineering activities for kids are the perfect way to hone their problem-solving skills and inspire a lifelong love for learning.

And since nothing can replace hands-on engineering activities, you'll also find a list of ten easy science projects to do at home or in a classroom. All of the listed STEM activities prove that you only need a few materials to inspire young kids to navigate the world of science in so many fun ways.

Let's dive in!

Why do kids love fun engineering projects?

Sure, learning basic principles of physics, improving focus, and developing critical thinking are important outcomes of engineering activities for elementary students. Still, kids enjoy engineering challenges for different reasons.

Try to think about yourself and most children in your class when you were a 12-year-old.

What was more interesting to students: the concept of conservation of momentum or the fact that they've made an amazing Newton's cradle in school?

Engineering activity for kids - Newton's Cradle

Image source: https://babbledabbledo.com

As you can assume, children usually gravitate towards the latter. Here's why:

  • It's fun and they get to play: Easy engineering projects are seen as play rather than work.
  • Instant results: Engineering projects often have quick outcomes, which keeps the enthusiasm alive.
  • Boosting self-confidence: Successfully completing a challenge enhances self-confidence.
  • Fostering accountability: Building activities foster a sense of ownership and connection to the project.

Now, let's see what actually happens while kids are having fun with elementary engineering projects.

What skills do kids' engineering projects develop?

No matter how basic an engineering activity or a math challenge might seem, you can rest assured that these activities are packed with skill-building opportunities.

For instance, a 2022 study has found that learning coding skills with robotic toys can improve children's math and technology skills, as well as their social-emotional development.

The study showed that the children learned coding concepts such as sequencing and debugging, and also developed collaboration and communication skills.

Some other skills you can see developing as a result of simple engineering projects for kids include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative ideas
  • Science knowledge
  • Time management

Let's not forget about resourcefulness, either.

Oftentimes, mechanical engineering activities for kids require you to utilize household materials in creative ways. Just remember all the ways kids use empty toilet paper rolls as building blocks for ingenious engineering adventures!

10 fun engineering activities for kids

Enough theory, we know you're eager to get your hands on some awesome engineering activities for kids. Grab some cardboard, a pipe cleaner or two, and let's go.

We'll start with a true engineering challenge, a STEM activity that will make your young engineer's eyes light up with excitement: making a game console.

#1 Create your own game console (we're not kidding)

You may now be thinking: "I wanted a simple engineering project, and now they're talking about building consoles?"

Luckily, there's an achievable way to complete this project that's suitable for every kid who's into video games.

Engineering activity for kids - creating a game console with CircuitMess Nibble

With Nibble, a DIY game console kit, kids can put their technical and computer engineering skills to the test and see how long it takes them to build their own programmable game console.

What tools and supplies do you need?

The Nibble kit comes with all the tools and supplies you need to build your console and complete this STEM project.

Nibble - engineering project for kids - tools and components

However, if you want to code your own apps and games, you'll also need a computer or a laptop.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Getting into electronics as a hobby has never been more approachable. By building their console, kids learn about electronic components and hardware assembly.

Those looking for extra engineering challenges can go the extra mile and also work on their coding and game design skills. That way, you don't have to worry about the child spending too much time playing video games because they're actively involved in crafting and programming their own experiences.

#2 Engineer a fort

The next idea on our list is an engineering activity that transcends generations: building a fort.

Engineering activity for kids - Building a fort

Image source: https://www.primroseschools.com

This engineering challenge is a timeless way for kids to channel their creativity, learn about structural design, and construct their own private world of adventure.

What tools and supplies do you need?

Although fort building is one of those engineering activities for kids at home that doesn't require many resources, kids can still create impressive structures.

To start this engineering project, you only need:

  • Blankets and sheets
  • Pillows and cushions
  • Clothespins
  • Cardboard boxes (optional)
  • Pallets or furniture (optional)

And that's it! You can let your kid's imagination run wild with crazy ideas while they fill their day with fun building activities.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Kids engage in imaginative play while designing their fort, learning about stability and balance for robust structures.

And they work together with their friends, parents, or siblings. This improves their communication skills and helps them to learn how to work together effectively.

#3 Learn with Rube Goldberg machines

Science is far from boring, and Rube Goldberg machines are living proof of that. They're these crazy contraptions that do a simple task in the most complicated, fun, and roundabout way possible. 

Here's an example of a cool, simple Rube Goldberg machine. 

Regardless of the components you use, all Rube Goldberg machines are fun engineering projects for kids that chain together a bunch of small actions to make a big chain reaction.

What tools and supplies do you need?

No two Rube Goldberg machines are the same: you can use absolutely any household materials you have on hand. Grab a bunch of dominoes, masking tape, rope, plastic links, and a PVC pipe, and you can start working on your ideas.

This is also an excellent activity for LEGO lovers because those colorful bricks offer endless building possibilities.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Creative engineering projects like this one teach kids about cause and effect in a playful way. Kids learn to plan, test their ideas, and solve problems as they build intricate systems. It's like turning your home or classroom into a mini construction site full of surprises.

#4 Build a DIY catapult

Now, let's catapult our way into another fun engineering challenge.

Whether you're aiming for fun, science, math, mechanical engineering for kids, or all of these, your kids will enjoy the process of creating a DIY catapult.

Engineering activity for kids - building a DIY catapult

Image source: https://www.popsci.com

Hardly anything beats flinging things across the room, which makes this one of the greatest engineering projects for 10 to 12 years olds.

What tools and supplies do you need?

You don't need a ton of materials to make a functional catapult. You'll likely find everything you need right in your home:

  • Craft sticks
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic spoon
  • Small pom-poms or crumpled paper

With these simple items, you're ready to embark on an epic launch into the domain of STEM activities, primarily physics and engineering.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Engineering catapults is one of many fun engineering projects for kids that help them understand forces, angles, and energy. Also, kids get to experiment and observe how changing variables affect the distance and trajectory of their projectile.

#5 Engineer a paper bridge

Building a paper bridge might seem simple, especially if there are no other materials involved. Still, it's a fantastic way to introduce kids to fundamental concepts of engineering and physics.

Engineering activity for kids - constructing a paper bridge - using paper and coins

Image source: https://science.wonderhowto.com

What tools and supplies do you need?

This simple and 100% screen-free activity only requires three things:

  • Sheets of paper
  • Scissors (for optional modifications)
  • Small weights, such as coins

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

As kids experiment with different designs, lengths, and support structures, they'll learn about balance, load distribution, and the importance of sturdy foundations.

Whatever bridge design you choose to follow, you'll see that fun engineering activities like these encourage creativity while teaching valuable skills that extend far beyond paper.

#6 Create a functional windmill

If you think your kid may be a future engineer or environmental enthusiast, exploring the realm of renewable energy and wind power through a windmill project is an excellent choice.

Engineering activity for kids involving creating a functional windmill

Image source: https://www.upstartmag.co.nz

Unfortunately, you won't be able to generate actual electricity in this process, but you'll certainly generate excitement and knowledge about how wind power can be harnessed.

What tools and supplies do you need?

To craft your own windmill, you'll need:

  • Craft sticks
  • Cardboard
  • Straws
  • Masking tape
  • Markers or colored pencils

Kids can also use hot glue to secure certain parts of the windmill, but make sure to involve an adult for safe handling.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

By making their own windmills, kids gain insights into the practical applications of engineering concepts, environmental awareness, and the potential of sustainable technology.

This activity seamlessly integrates STEM principles, showing how science, tech, engineering, and math can team up to tackle real-world challenges in a fun way.

#7 Design a straw boat

Keeping kids engaged in constructive and educational STEM activities is a great approach for reducing your kids' screen time, and we have more ideas for you.

For instance, you can challenge your little engineers to design a floating boat made of straws.

Engineering activity for kids involves building a straw boat

Image source: YouTube

Projects that use so few materials are fun engineering activities because they let kids transform ordinary household items into extraordinary creations.

What tools and supplies do you need?

Designing a straw boat is simple, and you probably have most of the materials at home. Here's what you'll need:

  • Straws
  • Craft paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue

Don't forget the most important part: a container of water to put your water vehicle to the test.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Building their own straw boats will help kids dive into the principles of buoyancy, stability, and fluid dynamics. They'll experiment with different shapes, sizes, and weights to understand how these factors impact a boat's ability to stay afloat and move in the water.

And, of course, the more water gets splashed around, the more fun the STEM project is.

#8 Build a balloon-powered car

Cars are complex machines, and making a miniature balloon-powered car provides a simplified yet fun way for kids to explore the basic principles of vehicle propulsion and energy conversion.

Engineering activity for kids - building a balloon-powered car

Image source: https://www.instructables.com

Creating a balloon-powered car might seem like rocket science, but fear not—this project breaks down the complexities into a hands-on, educational activity.

What tools and supplies do you need?

You don't need much to set your vehicle in motion. Some paper, balloons, tape, straws, and bottle caps are enough.

Supplies for the kids' engineering activity - building a balloon-powered car

Image source: https://www.instructables.com

You'll also need a supply of air (your lungs or a simple hand pump will do the trick).

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Kids will grasp concepts such as air pressure, force, and motion while enjoying the thrill of designing a vehicle that zooms across the floor. Also, this activity encourages critical thinking as kids iterate through different designs to optimize performance.

#9 Create a simple pneumatic machine

A slightly bigger challenge for your little engineer is to make a pneumatic machine.

Engineering activity for kids - building a simple pneumatic machine with affordable supplies

Image source: https://stemrobo.wordpress.com

These machines use the power of compressed air to create motion and perform tasks, and they offer a glimpse into the realm of pressure mechanics. So, if you've been looking for ideas to explore mechanical engineering for kids, this is an excellent one.

What tools and supplies do you need?

Just like other fun DIY engineering activities for kids on this list, this activity requires readily available resources.

Supplies for kids' engineering activity - building a simple pneumatic machine

Image source: https://stemrobo.wordpress.com

You only need craft sticks, plastic syringes, vinyl tubes, straws, and a pipe cleaner.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

Constructing the machine and experimenting with pressure allows kids to see how changes in pressure lead to movements. This cause-and-effect relationship provides them with a practical understanding of the fundamental principles that govern mechanical systems.

#10 Build a real Batmobile

Lastly, we'll leave you with one of the most interesting electrical engineering activities for kids: building a Batmobile. This project is the ultimate blend of imagination and multiple fun engineering activities. And we're talking about the real deal here. 

 Engineering activity for kids - building a DIY Batmobile with CircuitMess Batmobile kit

Assembling and coding a Batmobile allows kids to explore basic circuitry and make a vehicle that you can move with a controller.

What tools and supplies do you need?

To approach this STEM challenge, you'll need our Batmobile kit.

CircuitMess Batmobile parts and components - everything needed for this kids' engineering activity

From wheels to electric motors, the CircuitMess Batmobile STEM kit has everything you need to bring this STEM project to life.

If you want to take your Batmobile's capabilities even further, you can connect it to your laptop and program more functions. Those new to coding don't have to miss out on the fun; they'll learn about block coding to ease into the developer mindset, even at a young age.

Why is this engineering activity useful to kids?

While crafting their own Batmobile, kids learn about simple circuits, electrical connections, and the transformation of electrical energy into motion. STEM kits like this one are an exciting way to spark interest in engineering concepts and showcase how creativity and technology can merge.

Raise little engineers with CircuitMess DIY STEM projects

There you have it—these were our ideas for ten engineering projects for kids that we hope will find their way into your home, school, or classroom.

Some of these require nothing but simple materials, while others use complex components to teach your kids the fundamentals of electrical engineering.

If your kids react well to such projects, we encourage you to explore different DIY subscription boxes. This will help you make scientific experiments a regular part of your kids' lives, nurturing their curiosity and interest in STEM topics from a young age.

We think we have some great options for engineering projects for kids, so make sure to check out our STEM Box and Wacky Robots subscriptions! 

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