Activities for Young Learners

Designed to tap into children's natural empathy, these activities introduce young learners (ages 5-9) to the idea that engineering is simply a way to solve problems and help people (and animals, too!). Whether the challenge is building a stronger nest, designing an inclusive playground, or creating a more comfortable face mask, these activities will spark creativity and perseverance, the keys to a growth mindset.

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Biomimicry Mash-Up

Nature is full of solutions to various problems— whether it be protection from predators, inhabiting harsh environments, or finding a meal. Use biomimicry to learn about unique organisms and be inspired to create something new for human use!

Duration: 20+ minutes

Subject: Design Thinking

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Cooking with the Sun

Engineer a solar oven using some basic kitchen supplies, construction paper and a box. Then test it by making s’mores!

Duration: 40 minutes to build; one hour to “cook”

Subject: Solar radiation and energy, greenhouse effect

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Design for All: Project Playground

Become a playground designer and create a space that is fun, both for you and other kids. Sketch out your plans for the latest and greatest playground, designed for you and a fictional friend, then introduce everyone to the playground of the future!

Duration: 30 minutes

Subject: Design Thinking

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Paper Skyscraper

Create the tallest structure you can with just five pieces of paper! This fun building challenge is great for multiple ages and large groups. How high can you go?

Duration: 15+ minutes

Subject: Design Thinking, Engineering

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Building for Birdie

Birds are excellent engineers. Spread your own engineering wings as you explore different shapes and materials to design a sturdy home for a bird.

Duration: 30 minutes

Subject: Science, Language Arts

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Cupcake Delivery

In this design challenge, you will create wind-powered contraptions to transport a load. At The Tech, we use 3D-printed cupcakes as our load, but you can use just about any small object!

Duration: 20+ minutes

Subject: Design Thinking, Engineering

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Energy Red Light, Green Light

This activity is a fun exploration of energy concepts for children 5 to 9, and can be used as their exercise/outside time for the day too!

Duration: 20 minutes

Subject: Potential/kinetic energy, PE

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Time Capsule

Make a time capsule capturing your life now. Save it to open/watch at a later date!

Duration: 30+ minutes

Subject: Social Science, Digital Literacy

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Caution! Wildlife Crossing

In this fun activity, you will work as an engineer to build and test a wildlife crossing for a specific animal’s needs. Use your creativity and imagination to figure out how to help an animal cross the road safely!

Duration: 20+ minutes

Subject: Biodiversity

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Design for All: Face Masks for Friends Sponsored by Stanford Children's Health

In this activity, you will play the role of a product designer, identify a user (like a favorite stuffed animal or person!) and get to know their individual needs. You will create a design concept for a face mask, focusing on its fit and comfort.

Duration: 30 minutes

Subject: Design Thinking

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Ninja Walk

Can you move as smoothly and silently as a ninja? In this experiment, you’ll use your stealthy ninja skills to move through a noisy obstacle course while holding a smartphone that is recording data on your performance.

Duration: 15+ minutes

Subject: Data Literacy, Physical Education

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