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Project-Based Engineering for Kids

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This is a collection of project-based engineering lessons for kids. Project-based learning allows students to control the direction and pace of their learning. Activities that promote investigation, critical thinking, and hands-on subject matter are also central to project-based learning.

These project-based lessons focus on basic principles of physics, structural, and mechanical engineering. Physical models are built from a similar set of materials that can be easily sourced online (links are provided in-lesson).

All of the project plans in this collection are designed to be used in an after school enrichment setting, though you may use and modify these ideas for other not-for-profit purposes provided you cite The Workshop for Young Engineers.

This is a growing and improving collection of lesson plans. Please comment to share your ideas to improve lessons and photos of your designs.

Rubberband Helicopters: step-by-step style
A lesson in lift, drag, and stored energy
86K129
Extending Grabber style
Combine a series of hinges to create an extendable grabber.
13K150
Simple Pneumatic Machine style
An advanced-looking project built using simple techniques.
16K180
Cork Launcher style
Highly customizable and fun to use
33K261
Mini Siege Engines style
Three different plans for cork-shooting projectile launchers
73K211
Slingshot Cars style
Fast and fun, a good introductory project. Needs a bit of space.
17K32
Quick & Fun Engineering Projects style
Add flexibility to your project repertoire.
38K66
Cable Tie Truss Bridges style
Simple, sturdy, strong.
56K78
Crash Test Cars style
Keep a hard-boiled egg safe as it races other cars down a ramp and crashes into a wall.
40K73
Easy Hydraulic Machines style
Simple hydraulics are used to power four different projects of varying difficulty.
221K137
Tornado Tower style
This open-ended design challenge requires students to build towers that can withstand gusts of wind
6.5K9
Hydraulic JudoBots style
Simple hydraulics used to control grappling JudoBots
86K138
Bow and Arrow style
Some kids would build nothing but these if I let them
38K727
Geometric Shapes style
Combine simple 2D shapes made of straws and sticks to create more complex 3D constructs
4.3K10
Propeller-Powered Car style
A well balanced project with a satisfying end product.
58K97
Mechanical Hand style
A simple hinge and trigger are used to extend one's grasp
33K324
Top Launcher style
An unusual project that explores the gyroscope effect
27K136
Craft Stick Mouse Trap style
A unique project that mimics the way a real mousetrap functions.
17K49
No-Glue Bow and Arrow style
This project uses the same principles as the other Bow and Arrow Instructable.
5.7K18
Triangle Slinger style
A simple variant of the Viking Catapult
4.0K25
Simple Sail Car style
An easy project powered by air captured in a paper sail
10K21
Marble Roller Coaster style
Fun! A project to engage all ages.
115K97
Gliding Car style
Push the car off of a table and watch it glide to the floor and continue rolling
13K112
Pyramid Catapult style
Held together only with tape and straws, yet incredibly sturdy and high-performing
13K49