Engineers Week

Activities to Bring Engineers Week to Life

Bring the world of engineering into your classroom to celebrate National Engineers Week with these activity ideas for each day.

February 18th-24th marks National Engineers Week. The National Society of Professional Engineers established this celebration to recognize contributions made by engineers and the impacts they have made on all of our lives. It always falls during the week containing the birthday of President George Washington, who is considered our nation’s first engineer.

This is a perfect opportunity to highlight the engineering field in your STEM classroom. Check out the activities below for some ideas of how to engage your students with the world of engineering.

Monday: Get Students Thinking by Building

Kick off Engineers Week by challenging your students to create the unthinkable: a chair made out of newspaper. They may look at you funny, but this is a fun way to get their minds working. Gather some old newspapers and give each group one full paper, along with a roll of masking tape. That’s it! The goal is to design a chair out of these materials so that one of them can sit on it without collapsing. Test out the chairs as a class, followed by a discussion making connections to the world of engineers.

Tuesday: Teach Perseverance with Flinkers

On the second day of Engineers Week, show your students the power of testing, retesting, and then testing one more time. In this activity, students must create an object that neither floats or sinks, it “flinks”! Provide small groups with a variety of materials including packing peanuts, washers, pennies, string, paperclips, etc. You will also need a tank or container of water to test their creations. Set your time limits and see what they design! Relate this activity to the importance of prototyping, trail and error, as well as the perseverance that is needed in the world of engineering.

Wednesday: Celebrate Global Day with Engineering Marvels

Engineers Week

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Wednesday of Engineers Week is Global Day. Bring global awareness into the classroom by exploring engineering marvels such as the Hoover Dam, Golden Gate Bridge, and Eiffel Tower. Discuss local marvels in your own community. Discuss what they each have in common, including their geometric shapes or materials.

Extend this activity with the Marshmallow Challenge. Within eighteen minutes, students must work in a small group to build the tallest structures they can using twenty sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, and one yard of string. The only catch is that it must be able to hold an intact marshmallow on the top! This will bring in design elements you discussed, as well as a great experience in collaboration.

Thursday: Inspire on Girl Day with Engineering Role Models

Thursday of Engineers Week is all about role models and inspiring girls to be engineers. Open your lesson by spotlighting a female engineer, such as Debbie Sterling, the founder of GoldieBlox. Ask students to consider one of their favorite items, such as an iPhone, and the engineering practices that were used to make it. Allow students time to research this item online and the mind behind it. Come together as a class to share the role models they learned about. Discuss what each person may have had in common when developing their product.

Friday: Harness the Power of a Genius Hour!

Wrap up Engineers Week by hosting a genius hour in your classroom. A genius hour is a free hour for students to create and work on anything they are passionate about. It was first started in Google and has since taken off worldwide. Provide a problem that students need to solve, and then allow them to get to work! The beauty of a genius hour is that students can go about solving that problem however they’d like. It provides freedom of choice and focuses on students’ strengths.

Engineers Week Resources

Uses these resources to find more ideas and lessons to use for your celebration of Engineers Week:

Discover Engineers Week

National Society of Professional Engineers

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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Alexandra D. Owens

Alexandra Owens is a STEM Education consultant based in Charleston, SC. She taught middle school science for many years and is now completing her doctorate in STEM Education at Texas Tech University.

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