Providence Children’s Museum is celebrating Engineers Week (February 16-22, 2014) with engaging design and building challenges that support STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills.Â STEM explorations — particularly hands-on — are essential for developing critical thinking and problem solving abilities, and for encouraging kids’ future interest in math and science fields.
On February 15, Be An Engineer — experiment with conductivity, investigate pulley systems, build towers and more with members of the Society of Women Engineers. Â During Young Engineers on February 22, learn how civil engineers plan buildings and bridges from volunteers from the American Society of Civil Engineers, RI Chapter.Â And on February 23, explore Super Structures, an intriguing assortment of 3-D design and construction challenges big and small.Â Learn more.
Kids engage in engineering whenever they dig a moat for their sandcastle, fashion a paper airplane or form a fort from sofa cushions — special supplies aren’t required.Â Here are some excellent engineering challenges using everyday items to try at home.
In this classic challenge, use limited materials to design a dropped egg protector.
What You Need
- A raw egg
- A paper cup
- 15 straws
- 10 popsicle sticks
What You Do
Use your materials to build a container to protect the egg.Â Drop the container with egg 10 feet — from a porch, ladder or another high up spot. Â Did the egg survive?
- Make a container without using a cup.
- Make a container without using sticks either! Â Gather soft materials like fabric and foam and use them to wrap the egg.
Marble Obstacle Course
Build a crazy path for a marble to race through!
What You Need
- A marble
- A flat piece of cardboard (try an old cereal box)
- Masking tape
- Odds and ends from around the house, such as paper towel tubes, cloth scraps, sandpaper or paper cups
What You Do
Lean the cardboard against a wall to make a ramp, using masking tape to hold it in place.Â Use the odds and ends to make an obstacle course for the marble.Â You can tape them to the ramp or put them on the floor around the ramp.Â Roll the marble down the ramp and see what happens!
- Make the marble roll faster or slower by changing the angle of the ramp.
- See how far the marble rolls on different surfaces — rugs, wood, tile, or pieces of cloth.
- Use a piece of paper to make a hill for the marble to roll over.
- Think big!Â Make an outdoor obstacle course for a larger ball, like a baseball or basketball.
For more fun at-home engineering activity ideas, check out these great resources:
- From the Exploratorium, Things to Make and Do
- From PBS, Design Squad Nation, FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, and ZOOM
Providence Children’s Museum also presents special school vacation activities from February 17-21. Â Enjoy Keith Munslow‘s funny tongue-twisting tunes.Â Be amazed by hilarious mind-bending tricks in The Hoopoe Show.Â Meet a red-tailed hawk, a tiny owl, and other majestic birds of prey in Wingmasters.Â And it’s a Paper Caper when kids fold paper to create fabulous flyers. Â Learn more.