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Dream It! Build It! Summer Engineering for Second and Third Graders

written by: Patricia Gable • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 5/24/2016

Are you looking for a summer project or activity that will be entertaining but provide learning opportunities? Try an engineering endeavor! It will not only promote creative thinking and problem solving but it is fun, too. And it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Let’s get started!

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    Step 1

    SUMMER ENGINEERING 

    Set up a designated area to work and keep supplies. If you have younger children around remind your “builder” to put tools in a safe place away from little ones.

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    Step 2

    Begin collecting building supplies with your child:

    • cardboard boxes
    • tape
    • glue
    • scissors
    • foam
    • wood
    • paint
    • rope
    • ruler
    • fabric
    • paper towel tubes
    • cans
    • crayons
    • markers
    • and other miscellaneous items.
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    Step 3-

    Take a walk or drive around your neighborhood, town, city or while on vacation. Take notice of unique buildings, bridges, churches and other things that capture your child’s attention. Take pictures or sketch some favorites on a note pad.

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    Step 4

    Have a planning session. Discuss the things you have seen and introduce some new vocabulary in the process. What makes the building sturdy? Why doesn’t it collapse? Decide what you would like to build. What materials will you need to make it stable?

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    Step 5

    Trial and error. What works and what doesn’t? The key is not to become frustrated and give up. With each failure, something is learned. (You may want to use the book "Rosie Revere, Engineer" at this point.)

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    Step 6

    Learn about the center of gravity. (The point on any object where all the weight is centered.) As an example, try stacking books on top of each other with each book extending out from the first one. In other words, do not stack them up in a straight column.

    In a straight column, the center of gravity stays the same but when you extend each book beyond the last one the center of gravity changes. How many books can you stack without them tumbling down?

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    Step 7

    Finish it! What did you learn? What did you do to make it stable? Where is the center of gravity? Take a picture and celebrate!

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