100 Awesome Engineering Projects for Kids

By Kristie Lewis

Engineering and fun aren't always two things that kids naturally associate with one another, but there are hundreds of ways to make engineering, physics and design fun and challenging for kids. Here are 100 great experiments that will let kids construct, play, learn and grow, all while they study the fundamentals of engineering.

Basics

These projects focus on the basics of motion, force and other essentials of physics.

  1. Balls and Ramp. Try out this project to learn more about the laws of gravity.
  2. Ping pong ball catapult. Let kids have fun flinging the harmless ping pong ball across the room with this great activity.
  3. Topple dominoes. Make learning about physics fun with a few dominoes that you can set up and then knock down.
  4. Build a confetti launcher. Make any day a party with this fun and engaging project.
  5. Design a simple machine. Show how machines can make work easier with this flexible project.
  6. Chocolate grabbing. This experiment explains concepts like the center of gravity to young learners.
  7. Tower of coins. Learn about friction in this experiment using nickels.
  8. Build a top. How long can you keep a top going? Find out in this experiment.
  9. Moving cans. Getting two cans to move towards each other without touching them could be trickier than you think.
  10. Create a pendulum. To better understand motion, consider this project that requires you to build a pendulum.
  11. Paper clip trick. Children will be thrilled with this trick done with gravity.
  12. Balloon Blast Off. With this project, kids will use string and a balloon to see if they can hit a target on the other side of the room.
  13. Gravity basics. To understand why buildings don't topple over and how gravity really works, try out this project.
  14. Pushover. This experiment will teach kids about Newton's 3rd Law of Motion.

Light and Electricity

Let kids have fun understanding how to harness light and electricity.

  1. Create your own light bulb. Are your kids curious about how light bulbs are made? This project will let them make their own and see how the whole process works.
  2. Pinhole camera. Photos can be a mysterious thing for kids who don't understand how they work. With a pinhole camera, they'll be able to see how the light is refracted onto film by creating a camera obscura.
  3. Create a kaleidoscope. Kids will love seeing the colors and images created by the play of light in this experiment.
  4. Build simple circuits. Everything from television to light switches run on circuits so let kids create their own with this project.
  5. Split up light with a prism. This project will let children see just how light works and how we can manipulate it.
  6. Make a lemon battery. Kids will be amazed at the energy drawn from this fruit.
  7. Electrify gelatin. Raise up gelatin using only static electricity in this project.
  8. Make an electroscope. Using this device, kids will be able to test for static electricity.
  9. Steadiness tester. How steady are your hands? Find out in this experiment.
  10. How light travels. If you want to harness light you have to know how it moves. Get a quick education from this set of experiments.

Structures

Kids will have a blast trying to put together these building projects.

  1. Build a Bird House. Kids can learn about building as well as nature with this idea.
  2. Build your own bridge. Kids will learn how to engineer for strength in this classic building project.
  3. Engineer your own high rise. Let kids reach for the sky in this building project.
  4. Create a cardboard crane. You'll be able to see just what you can lift using this cardboard construction.
  5. Design an earthquake-resistant structure. Help kids see how buildings can be made to flex and move with this simple project.
  6. Build an egg tower. This project could be messy but it will give kids a chance to learn about how buildings are made strong.
  7. Geodesic dome. This style of house may not be hip anymore but kids can learn about building structures all the same in this project.
  8. Build an arch. Use force to hold together this curved structure by using blocks of any material you choose.
  9. Make a marshmallow tower. Using only marshmallows see how high you can get your tower before it topples. Add in other materials to change it up.
  10. Use gumdrops to make a dome. Then, see if you can get your structures to support some books.
  11. Engineering in reverse. Through this project, kids can learn how to work backwards and see how objects were designed.
  12. Home, Sweet Home!. Think you could build a strong and safe shelter? This experiment lets kids try.
  13. Modern day pyramids. If you've ever wondered how the pyramids were built before heavy machinery, take a look at this experiment.

Materials

Through these projects, children can see how different materials act and work in structures.

  1. Create the perfect play dough. By mixing different amount of ingredients, children can see how the properties of a substance can differ and better understand construction processes.
  2. Test materials for their properties. Some materials conduct electricity, some float and others are magnetic. This project lets kids discover how to figure out what properties a material has.
  3. Walk on paper cups. Do you think paper cups can support your weight? Give it a try in this project.
  4. Test out the strongest shapes. Using different shaped tubes, experiment to discover what the strongest shapes are.
  5. Compare densities. Not all liquids, gases and solids are the same. Try this experiment to learn more about the effects of density on materials.
  6. Mixing hot and cold water. What happens when you mix hot and cold water? Do they simply combine?
  7. Testing insulators. Check out this experiment to see what material acts as a better insulator.
  8. Heat saving device. Learn how materials and design can help keep food warmer longer in this experiment.

Travel and Movement

Learn about planes, trains, automobiles and all kinds of movement through these ideas.

  1. Paper Airplanes. Help your kids learn how aeronautics work and how they can better design their paper airplanes with this project.
  2. Sew a Kite. Through this projects, kids will learn about building kites and get a fun toy to boot.
  3. Make a Geyser. Combine Mentos and diet soda for explosive results. For more fun, see what kind of vehicle you can power with the force.
  4. Create your own rubber band car. With two wheels and only a rubber band for power, this project will challenge kids to be creative with design.
  5. Build and launch a model rocket. Kids will love putting together, painting and then launching their own rockets.
  6. Work together on a mouse trap car. While you'll need to make sure little fingers stay safe from the mouse trap, this can be a fun project to learn about motion.
  7. Straw and plastic wrap boat. This project will see if you can create a boat that can stay afloat with pennies aboard.
  8. Create a glider. Show kids how travel on air is possible by helping them design gliders.
  9. Build a paddle boat. A rubber band and some ingenuity can create a self-propelling boat.
  10. Design a zip line. This project requires kids to think creativity to build a quick-moving zip line.
  11. Create your own roller coaster. Let kids see just how hard it can be to design a thrilling but not deadly coaster.
  12. Soap powered boat. Let kids see what a difference in surface tension makes when it comes to propelling a boat.
  13. Race rocket cars. Power your car with lemon juice and baking soda and watch it go.
  14. Make a hovercraft. Combine a small piece of plastic and a balloon to create a hovering vehicle in this project.
  15. Build and race submarines. This experiments lets kids create subs that will sink then resurface.
  16. Improve the system. Try out this experiment to learn about efficiency, design and travel.

Harnessing Nature

Check out these projects to see how engineering can help harness the power of the natural world.

  1. Create a compass. A box, a nail and a magnet help turn everyday objects into a navigational tool in this project.
  2. Build a solar cooker. Help your kids harness the power of the sun to cook up some food with this project that its fun and educational.
  3. Design a windmill. Through this project, children can learn how wind power works.
  4. Put together a solar car. Get your hands on a small solar panel to complete this project.
  5. Heat water with the sun. You don't need a water heater when you have the sun, as this project shows.
  6. Solar still. Do you know how to turn bad water into good? This project will show you.
  7. Make a dam. Using only popsicle sticks and rocks, can you create a structure that stops water from flowing?
  8. Share water for a dam. Take your dam one step further and learn how to divert water to power two dams in this activity.
  9. Create an everyday object inspired by nature. There are loads of great forms and innovations in nature that can be copied in engineering.

Environment

These experiments will teach kids about environmental engineering and sustainability.

  1. Create a water filter. Help kids design and build a water filter to learn about the environment and how to engineer to support it.
  2. Imagine a membrane. Through this activity, kids can learn about cell membranes, how materials pass in and out, and how they could be engineered in a lab.
  3. Build a mechanical grabber. No one really wants to pick up trash with their hands, but in this project kids will learn how to build a trash picker upper.
  4. Harmless holder. Here, kids will need to come up with a way to hold together a six pack of soda using a system that's safe for animals.
  5. Recycle paper. See what goes into making the paper you use everyday by recycling it yourself.
  6. Make your own biodome. This experiment is a great way to help kids learn about sustainability and our planet.
  7. Lay out the city of the future. Create a design for a city that uses only renewable sources of energy.
  8. Acid Rain. See the harmful impact of simulated acid rain on living and non-living things in this experiment.

Understanding the Everyday

Give these projects a try to help kids understand everyday experiences and devices.

  1. Create a spring scale. Who doesn't love to play with springs? This project lets kids do just that while learning about physical forces at the same time.
  2. Sound an alarm. While it might get irritating, this project will let your kids get creative with engineering an alarm system.
  3. Make a paper table. Show kids how something weak can become something strong with a little engineering.
  4. Protect an egg. Through this project, kids can create a structure that protects an egg from breaking when dropped.
  5. Make a string telephone. Kids will learn how sound travels in this simple but fun exercise.
  6. Make clocks out of sand and water. Try out this project to have fun with using different substances to tell time.
  7. Design a carrier. This project asks kids to design a carrier for someone on crutches.
  8. Make your own flashlight. In this experiments, kids get to make a flashlight from scratch.
  9. Engineering Pop-Ups. Learn what goes into making sure pop ups work correctly and make your own through this project.
  10. Make your own helmet. Give a water balloon head some protection in this fun project.
  11. Put together your own radio. Get an AM radio kit and make your own with a child to see how it works.

Miscellaneous

These projects are fun ways to explore a wide range of topics from buoyancy to surface area.

  1. Design a parachute. Parachutes seem simple, but through this activity kids will learn that a lot goes into the design of the perfect parachute.
  2. Water on a string. Kids can get pretty wet trying to pour one cup of water into another via a string in this project.
  3. Dancing raisins. Illustrate the concept of buoyancy, like that of life jackets holding up a person, with this fun idea.
  4. Make a nest. Using all kinds of found materials, ask kids to make their own nests. They'll see quickly how hard it is to create one that stays together.
  5. Make an upside-down mobile. It's easy to build a hanging mobile but what about when you invert it?
  6. Design and make your own instrument. Through this experiment, kids can learn about sound and how to create it.
  7. Construct an automatic door opener. Why get up to open your door when you can make this gadget and do it from bed?
  8. Use Legos to make a robot. There are loads of parts and programs out there to help you build an amazing Lego machine.
  9. Create paper furniture. Cardboard, paper and other materials can be used to make furniture that is fun and structurally sound.
  10. Make a seismometer. Engineered structures need to know how to survive and earthquake. Learn how to measure the intensity of one using this simple experiment.
  11. An Arm and a Leg. Use this experiment to get a basic lesson in bioengineering.

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