Simple Machines, Hands-On Engineering & Science for Kids (series)

The simple machines lessons in these books are each supported by two to three relevant and captivating activities designed to engage children with engineering experiences and teach them to actively think and question the world around them. Participants learn to identify simple machines, use higher level thinking to make comparisons, ask and answer questions, make…

Simple Machines Class

We have successfully wrapped up our curriculum-rich five week Simple Machines class for elementary students.  Children and their parents met us once a week for an hour after school in an outdoor space at the Museum of Ventura County in downtown Ventura. Each class included an introduction to specific simple machines and multiple hands-on activities…

Phase 2 of the Rube Goldberg Event: Planning & Organization

Does the planning process seem too daunting? While the idea of planning for a Rube Goldberg Engineering Event might seem daunting, I hope this post will encourage you to take on this challenge. Additionally, in this post, I will break down the planning process and outline some manageable phases so that you will feel comfortable…

Gordian Knot

Overview The Gordian Knot is a group challenge requiring participants to work together to solve a puzzle and to be physically close.  Both demands of this exercise are tricky for any group.  A group leader will naturally emerge, and participants will learn that, for the group to be successful, they will need to be patient,…

Camouflage

Oveview This activity is a new take on Hide & Go Seek, and a favorite with all ages.  The game of Camouflage teaches participants about the predator/prey relationship and highlights how animals make themselves invisible to predators and how bright colors, or movement, can give them away.  This activity was my go-to when I worked…

Worms + Compost Box

Overview Teachings kids about worms & composting complements lessons on soil science, animal habitat, and environmental studies.  Composting with worms is called vermicomposting. Worms will break down plant materials as they eat it, pass it through their body, and turn it into rich soil for a garden.  This process provides nutrients for other plants, and…

Travel Journaling

My grandmother wrote travel journals on international trips to Mexico, Egypt, Russia, Africa.  These journals are still around, dating back to the 1960’s, and contain accounts of her day, meals, and impressions of the culture, along with tips on the best seat choice for flying in a 747, notes about respecting people’s differences, and packing…

Spider’s Web

Overview Participants of any age will use teamwork to accomplish this group building exercise.  Additionally, this exercise may be used to discuss how spiders create webs and use them to catch their food. Materials one skein of yarn two trees or posts a few feet apart Set Up Choosing one the two trees, or posts,…

Levers & Catapults

Objectives Levers, Class 1. Learn about simple machines specifically levers. Learn about and practice the scientific method (i.e, hypothesizing, control, independent variable and dependent variable & testing). Apply learning to a real-world catapult challenge. Ages – 6 and up Supplies Levers made of wood paint stirrers, cups and corks. The levels will vary in their…

Geoboards

Objectives Learn about basic geometric concepts such as shapes and angles. Practice counting. Learn about patterns and symmetry. Work on fine motor skills. Ages – 3 and up Supplies Wood panel/boards or varying sizes Nails (nail in 4 rows of 4 nails making sure they are evenly spaced across and down the wood board) Paint…