Teaching Engineering to 5th Graders Using Simple Materials 

Engineering is a great way to get kids interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. It gives them an opportunity to use their problem-solving skills and creativity while working with everyday materials they find around the house. These projects are perfect for 5th graders who are looking to explore this area of STEM. 

Fifth grade students have the capacity to learn about engineering in a fun and engaging way. With simple materials like cardboard, paper, and string, you can easily create hands-on activities that teach children about the basics of engineering and allow them to explore their creativity. Here are a few projects that you can use in your classroom to introduce your students to engineering. 

3D Design with TinkerCAD

I’ve made a whole post on this topic – video instruction included. Check it out.

Build a Bridge 

Building a bridge out of simple materials is an excellent way for fifth graders to learn about the power of design and how different structures can hold up under pressure. Challenge your students with building the longest or strongest bridge they can using items like popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, rubber bands, or cardboard. This is a great opportunity for students to understand how certain shapes and designs can make a structure stronger or more stable. 

Popsicle Stick engineering

Here are all the tutorials I have made, you do need to be able to drill a hole in popsicle stick.

Create a Tower 

Creating a tower out of straws or popsicle sticks is another great way for fifth graders to get creative while learning about design principles. Ask them to build the tallest tower they possibly can with their chosen material and explain why certain shapes may be better than others when it comes to stability. They will also be able to explore the idea of balance and symmetry while they work on their towers. 

Design an Automobile  

Using simple items such as paper plates, toilet paper rolls, rubber bands, cardboard boxes, etc., challenge your fifth grade class with designing an automobile that moves on its own power without any outside help from motors or batteries. This will encourage them to think critically about energy transfer and friction as well as how different types of materials interact with each other in motion.  

Paper Tower Challenge 

This challenge is a great way to get kids thinking like engineers and architects. Give each student a stack of paper, and have them build the tallest tower they can using only that paper. This project requires problem solving, creative thinking, and teamwork if students choose to work together. Encourage students to measure the height of their towers throughout the process so they can track their progress. 

Similar Projects:

Density Columns 

This project has students exploring the science of density by making colorful liquid columns with common household items like oil, water, food coloring, and honey. Have each student place these items into a clear container in order from least dense (oil) to most dense (honey). As the liquids interact with one another, they will form interesting patterns that show off their unique densities. Students can also experiment with adding more substances or changing up the order of liquids to see how it affects their final product. 

Catapult Design Challenge 

This challenge has students designing catapults out of simple materials such as Popsicle sticks, rubber bands and plastic spoons! Ask them to build catapults that can launch small objects like pom poms or cotton balls across the room safely. This is an excellent way for them to learn about physics concepts like trajectory and force while having fun at the same time. 

Here is my post on the topic.

Construct a Robot Hand

Help your fifth graders construct realistic robot hands using paper cups and string! This project encourages children to think creatively while exploring concepts such as force multiplication and mechanical advantage which are essential concepts in engineering. Ask them questions like “How could you make this robot hand even stronger?” or “What else could you add in order for it lift heavier objects?” As they work through these problems, they will gain more insight into basic engineering principles while having fun at the same time!  

With these activities, teachers everywhere can easily bring basic engineering principles into their classrooms without breaking the bank by purchasing expensive materials or equipment! By introducing fifth grade students to concepts such as force multiplication, energy transfer, stability & symmetry through hands-on projects like these, teachers will be able lay an important foundation for future scientific exploration that will benefit generations down the line!

Other Projects:

Engineering projects are a great way for 5th graders to explore STEM topics while using everyday materials found around the house! With these three projects—the Paper Tower Challenge, Density Columns and Catapult Design Challenge—your students will gain valuable engineering experience while having plenty of fun along the way! Give your students a chance to think creatively and solve problems like real engineers with these simple yet engaging projects!

I am creating this site to advance student creativity and help students to take ownership of their learning. The resources on this site are intentionally open-ended and a part of my Innovative Arts curriculum.

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