Always on the lookout for more science education resources, I stumbled across a real gem last week. There are any number of “kids science experiment” style books, but precious few articulate fundamental engineering principles in such a way that elementary students can get their hands dirty and build something at little or no expense.
Check out “How Things Work” by Neil Ardley. You can purchase it here from Amazon.
The book guides readers through an introduction to a broad range of foundational engineering challenges from structural design, to aerodynamics of birds and planes, to hydraulic valves and pumps, and almost everything in between. Each chapter includes clear directions on how to build prototypes with paper, cardboard, straw types of materials. They are FANTASTIC.
The demo projects are by-and-large rather simple and short, but do a great job demonstrating fundamental principles and techniques. They then become the perfect platform to ask, “so how would you make your widget ______ [Stronger, Faster, Lighter, etc…]?” Then you just give ’em a bucket of parts and watch them go.
The cover touts a target demographic of ages 8-14 but I already have my 4 1/2 year-old daughter working on a couple of projects. Takes after her ‘ol Dad she does!
Every school (and parent) should have one! Go forth and engineer!