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3 Recycle Bin Engineering Projects

Engineering for kids is a great way to introduce kids to the world of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM). It is a field that involves designing, building, and testing various structures, machines, and systems. By engaging in engineering activities, kids can develop their problem-solving skills, creativity, and critical thinking abilities. There are many ways to introduce engineering to kids. One easy way is to allow kids to experiment through hands-on activities right at home. Kids can design and build structures like bridges, towers, and buildings using blocks, recycled materials and whatever else you may have at home.


Here are some fun ideas to try.


1. 3-D City/Farm/SpacePod

Love the city? Or the farm? Or Space? Create a landscape for kids to build on and use as a play mat for cars, animals or action figures.

Time: 60 Mins - multi day project

Supplies: Cut open a large box (or use any other large paper/cardboard) and spread it out on the floor. Use markers, crayons or paint to sketch out a map of your town.

Build your structure! Use bottles, tubes, boxes, cardboard, paper and other recyclable materials to create buildings, fences, outbuildings, and other aspects of your town.

Extension: Use real plants, paper and clay to construct trees, bushes, plants.

Key terms: map, planning, construction


2. Junkbots

Ok, I’ll admit it. I think robots are the coolest. I love droids the most because the are like non-human friends (I mean, who doesn’t love droids?) Build your own junk robots at home. Begin by brainstorming all the things you can think of that a robot may have.


Time: 60 Mins +

Here’s some junkbot characteristics to consider! How does it move, what does its face and body look like and what kinds of cool accessories does it have? This list will help you collect your recyclables (junk) to begin building.

Choose your junkbot characteristics:




Supplies: This one can use creative supplies! Simple items such as tubes, coffee cans, jugs, cans, etc. make a good robot body. Save up a stash of “electronic” items from broken objects - like springs, wires or small parts from a phone, computer or other electronic device. Print out or draw robot faces or use google eyes or other fun craft materials you have.

Build your robot! Our model has solar paint on it, so its job is to be a Robot UV light detector!

Extension: Build your robot to do a task (roll, pick something up etc) for an extra challenge.

Key terms:design, characteristics, model


3. Storm Proof Structures

Most days we don’t have to worry too much about the weather. We may take a look outside to see if the sun is out or if it is raining. We may check a thermometer or turn on the news so we know the outside temperature and to make sure we are properly dressed for the day. But sometimes the weather can get extreme! Severe weather conditions can vary depending on where you live. Extreme weather can include hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, hail, blizzards, ice storms, and high winds.

Time: 30-60 mins

Supplies: tape, paper, tubes, bottles, cardboard, other recyclable materials, box or other type fan.

Build your structure! Challenge kids to build a structure that can withstand strong winds (from your fan). If the structure does not survive, try to decipher why and improve your design. Does it need stability? Weight? What else could you use to improve your design?

Extension: Make your challenge harder by moving the fan closer, or by adding a second story to your building.

Key terms: Structure, design, weather

*Congratulations you are using the engineering and design process!



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