I’ve set a few homeschooling goals this upcoming school year and one is to include more STEM learning with the kids. My biggest problem is that my passions include literature, writing, and dance – basically everything that is the opposite of STEM….lol.
So I was excited to try the book “Hands-On Engineering” from Prufrock Press! If you’re unsure how you can set up STEM learning at home, this is a great resource for simple STEM challenges!
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.
Simple STEM Challenges with Hands-On Engineering
In “Hands-On Engineering“, you get complete teacher instructions, project descriptions, internet resource links, and student activity sheets. It’s almost a no-prep solution to planning STEM activities. 🙂
The resource is described as appropriate for grades 4-7 and I can see why. Some of the projects are fairly detailed and require a good amount of critical thinking from kids. But I decided to use it with all three of our school-age kids – just to see.
The teacher resources are fabulous. There are diagrams, explanations, Internet links, and summaries that give you a good background of each activity.
We settled on the Build a Catapult challenge from the book, and that involved getting an understanding of how a lever works. I drew the same diagram from the Instructor Key on the board and we talked about the essential parts of a lever.
Then the kids sketched their own diagrams. Afterward, we used some of the internet links listed in the Teacher’s activity sheet for the catapult activity.
We watched a video showing how ancient catapults (or “onagers”) were assembled and we talked about some of the advantages and challenges they posed for armies in battle. Then it was time for the kids to build their own catapult!
One thing I really like about “Hands-On Engineering” is that there are no detailed instructions on how to build the item in question. As a result, the kids were forced to try various methods, brainstorm ideas, and cooperate. Among the list of available supplies were rubber bands, clothespins, popsicle sticks, and plastic spoons.
What really impressed me was that, of all three children, Pooh (our almost seven-year-old) was the first to build a working catapult!
We rounded up all of the pennies in the house and, before I knew it, it was raining pennies from heaven…lol.
Look at that face. That is the face of a boy who is extremely pleased with himself.
Once Pooh figured out the basic design of a catapult, the other kids made their own. But then they started hitting the chandelier in my dining room with their pennies, so they were banished to the living room. After all, engineers have to learn to work in all kinds of environments. 😉
I loved Hands-On Engineering and I’m looking forward to making more of the projects with the kids this school year! If you’d like to try to build a catapult or any of the other simple STEM challenges in “Hands-On Engineering“, check out the book for yourself!