101 Engineering STEM Activities for Kids

Engineering is a key component of many STEM classes, but it can be an intimidating subject to teach for parents and teachers not primarily trained in the field. The good news is kids are often drawn to building and taking things apart, skills that can be nurtured with simple engineering activities. We’ve gathered a list of 101 of our favorite hands-on activities that will get kids excited about the engineering design process. With some basic materials, and a bit of curiosity, kids will be designing, creating, testing, and improving solutions to engineering problems in no time!

Transportation

Whether your kids like boats that float or cars that go, these building activities will surely be a hit with those fascinated by forms of transportation.

Storytime STEAM with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Preschool Steam
How to Make a Recycled Balloon Car Left Brain Craft Brain
Square Wheels Exploratorium
Rubber Band Car DIY Figment Creative Labs
Absorb the Shock! Scientific American
Propeller-Powered Zipline Racers Instructables
Straw Boats: Engineering Challenge for Kids The Science Kiddo
Making Simple Boats that Float Teach Preschool
Build a Paddle Boat Rookie Parenting
Cork Raft Building Challenge for Kids Kitchen Counter Chronicles
Simple Cardboard Airplane Craft for Kids Hands On: As We Grow
Egg Crate Airplane Engineering Project Schooling Active Monkeys
Design a Submarine Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Food Fun

From marshmallows to spaghetti, using food can make for affordable and fun engineering projects.

One Minute Marshmallow Engineering Challenge Steam Powered Family
Family Movie Night & S’mores STEM Challenge No Time For Flash Cards
Leaning Tower of Pasta TeachEngineering
How Strong is Spaghetti? Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls
Candy House – Making a Stable Structure Science Sparks
Design Challenge with Sticks, Clay, and a Mandarin TinkerLab
Engineering with Food: Preschool STEM My Mundane & Miraculous Life
Engineer a Gumdrop Structure Creative Child
Edible Rovers eGFI

Back to Nature

Get kids out of the house or classroom and into nature with these activities perfectly suited for the outdoors.

Outdoor Engineering: Building Stick Forts Little Bins Little Hands
Playground Sized DIY Marble Run Babble Dabble Do
Log Pile House Building Challenge Inspiration Laboratories
How to Make a Homemade Water Wall for Kids Happy Hooligans
Mudbrick Houses Imagine Childhood
Speedy Shelter PBS Kids Design Squad Global
Build a Shelter from the Sun and Test it with UV-Sensitive Beads Buggy and Buddy
Design A Seed Engineering Challenge Share it! Science News
Backyard Pulley an Engineering Challenge for Kids Kids STEAM Lab
DIY Solar Oven The Craft Train
Backyard Railroad Engineering: Outdoor STEM Challenge for Kids Adventure in a Box

Robots Rock

Be sure to ask kids what problems their robots will solve before they design, build, and test these marvelous bots.

Build Your Own Robot Arm TryEngineering
Robo Arm PBS Kids Design Squad Global
Squishy Circuit Robot: Electrical Engineering Design Challenge Lemon Lime Adventures
Homemade Spinning Brushbot Research Parent
Upcycled Toy Car Marker Bots Left Brain Craft Brain
How to Make a Minion Scribble Bot Science Sparks
Drawing Robot: Learn How to Create Robot Art Rosie Research
Build Your Own Underwater Robot Science Buddies
Engineer a Bee eGFI

Simple Things

Sometimes the simplest things can make for the best engineering projects. Challenge kids to design and build with simple materials ranging from cups to straws to newspapers.

Newspaper Engineering Challenge for Kids The Educators’ Spin On It
100 Cup Challenge Busy Kids Happy Mom
Building With Straws: A STEM Activity Kids Activities Blog
Straw Geodesic Dome Babble Dabble Do
Building a Straw House Deceptively Educational
Fun and Easy Straw Rocket STEM Activity for Toddlers Engineering Emily
DIY Magnetic Marble Run for the Fridge Door Go Science Girls
How to Make an Indoor Boomerang What We Do All Day
Indoor Snowball Structures: Engineering for Little Hands One Time Through
How to Make a Bubble Blower Machine Teach Beside Me
Balancing Dinosaur STEAM Activity for Kids Rainy Day Mum
DIY Marble Mazes for Preschool Kids Coffee Cups and Crayons
Build a Cardboard Scissor Lift Scientific American
C is for Catapult! Go Science Girls
How to Build the Eiffel Tower: An Engineering Project for Kids KC Edventures
How to Make Homemade Fidget Spinner STEM Little Explorers
3D Shapes and Shapes Out of Straws and Pipe Cleaners Meaningful Mama
Spider Web Construction Rainy Day Mum
Building Toothpick Bridges Eva Varga

Teaching Tip: Turn a simple engineering activity into a lesson plan by having students follow the engineering design process. Ask students to:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Do background research
  3. Brainstorm and select a potential solution
  4. Create a prototype
  5. Test and evaluate the prototype
  6. Improve upon the prototype
  7. Communicate the results

Get started with this engineering design challenge printable.

Holiday and Seasonal

Incorporate engineering into your lessons with these activities themed around holidays and the seasons.

Christmas Engineering Activity for Kids Fun-A-Day
Gingerbread Steam Project The Homeschool Scientist
Candy Can Construction Bridge Preschool Powol Packets
Build a Cornstarch Block Christmas Tree Gift of Curiosity
Paper Circuit Snowman Rosie Research
Sugar Cube Igloo Project The Crafty Classroom
November STEM: Giant Balloons, Thanksgiving Parades, & Engineering Get Caught Engineering
Halloween Robot Spider Craft Inspiration Laboratories
Candy Heart Catapult Stir the Wonder
Easter Catapult STEM Activity and Easter Science for Kids Little Bins Little Hands
PEEPS Parachute STEAM Challenge in Early Childhood The Preschool Toolbox
Engineering STEAM Activity: Build a Leprechaun Trap Kids STEAM Lab

Reverse Engineering

If your kids are constantly taking things apart, reverse engineering may be just the thing for them!

Reverse Engineer a Solar Toy From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Reverse Engineering a Fidget Spinner From Engineer to Stay at Home Mom
Recycled Toy Robot Project with Reverse Engineered Toys Brain Power Boy
Reverse Engineering Project: Disassemble, Sketch & Recap TeachEngineering
Disassemble a Click Pen TeachEngineering
Tinkering for Kids – Waffle Iron Confidence Meets Parenting
STEM Tinkering Activity: Taking Apart an Old Toy Little Worlds Big Adventures
Toy Take Apart Exploratorium
Your Kids Should Be Taking Apart Electronics! There’s Just One Mommy

Making the World a Better Place

Engineering projects should solve problems using design solutions. These activities will allow kids to explore how they can improve people’s lives in meaningful ways.

Earthquake Rollers Scientific American
Convenient Carrier PBS Kids Designer Squad Global
Articulated Grabber Engineering Project for Kids Instructables
Build a Lung Model US Patent and Trademark Office
Make Your Own Water Filters TeachEngineering
Solving a ‘Windy’ Problem Science Buddies
How to Make an Articulated Hand Go Science Girls
Building for Hurricanes eGFI
Tornado Tower Made for STEAM

Just for Fun

These engineering activities don’t fall into one of the above categories, but they do make for great learning opportunities for kids!

Engineering Kids | Rube Goldberg Machine TinkerLab
Using Pool Noodles to Build a Playhouse From ABCs to ACTs
PVC Pipe House Building Project Engineering STEM Activity Little Bins Little Hands
STEAM Challenge: Build a structure you can balance on one finger (or your nose!) Gift of Curiosity
Build a Satellite NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
How to Make Projector Using Smartphone and Magnifying Glass STEM Little Explorers
Pneumatic Machine Made for STEAM
Cardboard Automata Exploratorium
How to Make a Water Wheel Home Science Tools
Global Cardboard Challenge Imagination.org

If you enjoyed this article, try our Ultimate Guide to Teaching Science and our science worksheets and lessons for more great teaching resources.

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