Childhood is a time of boundless curiosity and imagination. It’s a period in life when every cardboard box can become a spaceship, and a handful of building blocks can transform into a towering castle. Children’s innate creativity knows no bounds, and nurturing and encouraging this creativity from a young age is crucial.
Engineering is the art and science of designing and building things. It is a creative and innovative field that requires engineers to use their imagination to solve problems and develop new solutions. Engaging children in engineering early on is a great way to foster their creativity and problem-solving skills. It can also help them develop a love of learning and a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects.
Project-Based Learning Opportunities
Project-based learning enhances STEM education for children by providing real-world context and hands-on experiences. It fosters skills such as project management, time management, adaptability, inquiry, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity, empowering students to apply STEM concepts practically.
Mindnasium extensively uses project-based learning within its STEM Camps to provide the best enrichment classes for kids. Children use insightful activities and knowledge to experience fundamental engineering principles in a fun and engaging way. Some exciting projects children can complete to display their inner engineering talents include:
- Design and build their own arcade games using cardboard and simple materials. This project uses imaginative game design and introduces children to basic mechanics and motion principles. Kids can develop pinball machine, car racing game, portable paper house, and rocket ships. These can also be used to form objects like small cars and household items that can make things organized.
- Using LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kit to make advanced robotics such as a robot arm, a color sorter, or a gyro boy balancing robot and remote-controlled vehicles with a variety of attachments that can be used for tasks like picking up objects, launching projectiles, or even exploring rugged terrains. Mindnasium has easy-to-follow coding classes for kids in Franklin Square that can help improve the coding skills of children.
- Using Minecraft to design and construct intricate structures and explore architectural engineering by creating buildings, bridges, and other structures while considering factors like stability, materials, and aesthetics. Children showcase their engineering talents by experimenting with designs and learning from their successes and failures.
Role of Mentors
Mentors can play a vital role in helping children feel like engineers. They can provide children with the support, guidance, and encouragement they need to develop their engineering skills and knowledge. Mentors can also help children see themselves as engineers and believe they can achieve their engineering goals.
Children can also take inspiration from fellow kids who excelled in engineering projects recently. Some inspirational young innovators include 11-year-old Ryan Hickman, renowned for his effort to recycle more than one million cans and bottles while keeping oceans from trash. Likewise, 2019 Google Science Fair winner Fionn Ferreira worked on the use of magnets to extract microplastics from water using a magnetic liquid called Ferrofluid.
These are just a few examples of the many talented kids excelling in engineering today. Their work inspires us all, showing us that anything is possible when we put our minds to it.
Encouraging children to gain knowledge about STEM subjects from an early age can prepare children for future challenges. Supporting them to take up creative hands-on projects and participate in science fairs and competitions can help build self-confidence and curiosity to learn new things. Taking inspiration from young innovators and mentors can help children stay motivated and find innovative ways to overcome challenges.