Monday, 22 May 2017

Celebrating STEM - Engineering, Building Bridges

After hearing that Learning Resources was celebrating S.T.E.M this month, I thought that I would join in and celebrate it too. We love learning and S.T.E.M gives us great opportunities to do this. If you are unsure what S.T.E.M stands for it's Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Some of these areas of learning you may think are a little advanced for a young child but in fact they are all things that your child naturally has the ability to learn and will also pick up easily. 

This post is all about Engineering. Engineering is such a big word to use for a little child but there are so many simple and easy activities that can be done. Engineering is a really good thing for your child to be interested in as they learn so much by doing it. It is great for their hand and eye co-ordination, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, cognitive development, (which is information processing) and problem solving. 

Usually when people talk about engineering they think of trains, cars, things that move. But an Engineer is a much wider scale than that and is actually someone who designs and builds something such as machines or systems or structures that help solve a specific problem. 

The first steps of Engineering is probably something your child has been doing from a young age and you haven't realised it. Who's child has build something to help them climb up on top of it? For example the couch? That right there is engineering! They saw that there was a problem climbing up onto the couch and built something that solved the problem and helped them get up onto it. 

So I thought about what activity I would like to do with Lily to help her learn a little more about Engineering. It had to be something that was on a 2 years olds level of learning and so I decided that we would build different types of bridges. So I got out her bricks and bought some wide lolly pop sticks from the shops. For this activity you don't have to use these and could find something else you have at home that may be great to build bridges with. If your child is old enough a great start to engineering would be for them to find and figure out what they could use to make a bridge. 


So bridge number one. I helped Lily with the designing of the bridges. She has never made them before and so this was something new for her. I firstly decided to make a low down wide bridge. I chose two bricks that were long and didn't pile any more bricks on top. I showed Lily how to lay the sticks on top and let her do them herself so she was constructing the bridge.

This was really great for Lily to have to be very gentle with the sticks to lay them down. As this was a wide bridge she had to use quite a few sticks and found it easy to lay them on it. After building the bridge Lily was really pleased with herself. The next challenge was to see which of her cars would the bridge hold. We had 2 cars, one slightly smaller than the other and one small train. I let Lily place each one on to see if it would hold on the bridge. If your child is a little older, you could always ask them before you placed it on if they thought the bridge would take it. This means the child is having to look at size and solve the problem do they need to make a bigger bridge or smaller. 


If you were to do this activity with an older child and ask them questions and be getting them to solve weather they needed a smaller of bigger bridge then I would start with an impossibly small bridge and get them to build it bigger and bigger until it took the car just like the bridge above did. 

After trying all the cars on the bridge and them all staying on. I made it a little tricker for Lily by making a smaller higher bridge. This made it tricker for lily to balance the sticks on top but she still did a good job. We found that the train fit on it perfectly and the car did, but only just.



Our next bridge we did was the trickiest. I decided to make a really thin but high bridge with Lily to see if we could manage to get the train to stay on top. I helped Lily build 2 towers, and taught her that both sides had to be the same. After she build it really high we had to put the sticks on top. Lily found this so difficult and it did take many attempts but eventually we managed to balance 2 sticks on top of the towers. 



The next challenge was to see if the train would sit on top. And...


It didn't and the bridge came crumbling down. At this point I had to make Lily laugh about the bricks all falling down as she was a little bit disappointed to see it all go down after the effort of making it. So then I decided our final bridge would be perfect for the train. We figured that it needed to be higher so then maybe cars could go under the bridge, but also wider than the one brick tower. So Lily helped me one final time to build a bridge. 


Lily was really getting the hang of it by now and was understanding where the sticks needed to go and how they needed to go next to each other. She then placed the train on top and it sat there perfectly. I did one more thing to it and that was put bricks on top of the lolly pop sticks at each end just to add some more stability. Lily was super happy with the bridge and started to drive her cars through it. 



Now that we have done this activity I have left the sticks with her bricks incase she ever wants to build a bridge again. 

Have you ever build a bridge with your child? What other Engineering activities have you done with your children? 

22 comments:

  1. I haven't built a bridge by we're always trying something new

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  2. This is awesome! My daughter's just started building things with her blocks. Definitely gonna have to try this :)

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  3. I used to love playing with building blocks when I was little.

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  4. Aww what a lovely activity, so much you can do with blocks when it comes to playing and learning.

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  5. This is a great activity, my kids liked building blocks when they were little.

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  6. I love STEM projects, and I think it's great that girls are being encouraged to get more involved with them too.

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  7. What a great activity and way of celebrating Stem - building bridges and blocks as a child is so important

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  8. Jack loved building bridges when he was Lily's age and loves doing it still. What a great way to celebrate!

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  9. Aww Lily looks like she is having so much fun. I used to love building things when I was little.

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  10. I love this ideas, as I teacher I totally agree about the importance of introducing children to STEM x

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  11. Oh wow she's gotten some great toys there. It looks like your little one is having great fun building.

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  12. This looks great, I used to love this sort of thing when i was a kid

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  13. Aw bless her she got there in the end. I think this was a great task to teach Lilly about engineering through bridge building x

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  14. My guys love building especially the twins, blocks or ramps for cars are a firm favourite here. I think they take after their dad who is very hands on and loves building himself x

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  15. This is a very ingenious way of teaching children about engineering. I think one game that can definitely be very useful in developing that love for engineering to children is actually Lego.

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  16. I do remember doing this a couple years ago but not quite in the same way - such a great lesson!

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  17. this was a good way to teach them! letting them know the basics

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  18. I need to look into some STEM activities for my nanny children. I've never really come across it before. My three year old would enjoy this one!

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  19. This is fabulous! I love the idea of STEM and it shows that you can teach your children anything with enough thought and fun put into it. Love this post x

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  20. This is such a great way to promote STEM. Oscar loves building at the moment, and his imagination is amazing :)

    Louise x

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  21. Awwwh what a fun little activity, STEM sounds great!! I find my boys love building new things!

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  22. You do automatically think of engineering as something for adults but it's amazing what is classes as it and how important it is to encourage these skills early on along with science and maths

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