5 LEGO Engineering Challenges

Updated: Apr 7

Now is a great time to take out some old toys you may have around the house and put them to new uses. I know as the mom of two boys, (now in high school and college), I always had plenty of LEGOs and action figures under my feet. Below are a few ideas to breathe some new life into toys you already have, whether they are favorites or collecting dust. Besides making something old new again, this may be a fun way to inject a little engineering, math and science into everyday play. Engineering challenges at home allow kids to practice problem solving and planning for real world scenarios.



1. Design a Wheelchair for an Action Figure

Time: 15-60 mins

Oh no! Batman has broken his leg. Your job is to design a wheelchair so your favorite action figure can still fight crime (or perhaps cause chaos?). Using a larger than LEGO figure creates a few new challenges for your at home engineer to solve (size, balance, etc).


Extension: Expand this challenge to create other items for oversized action figures - cars, planes, helicopters. What else can you come up with?


Key terms: wheel, axle, community needs



2. LEGO Neighborhood Map

Time: 30 min - multi-multi day project

Make good use of all those Amazon boxes! 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 neighborhood. Use LEGO blocks to build houses, schools and other buildings, for a 3D map.


Extension: Use real twigs, paper and clay to construct trees, bushes, plants. This could go on for several days as you integrate different components to build a mini-scale neighborhood.


Key terms: map, planning, construction















3. Design a Lego Catapult

Time: 30 mins- several hours

Catapults are always fun. Designing catapults is a great way to get kids thinking about simple machines. Sometimes the best way for kids to understand how a catapult works is to begin by building a seesaw. A seesaw is a first class lever. Challenge kids to balance LEGOs equally on the seesaw. What happens when you add more LEGOs to one side? Now, move the pivot point (fulcrum) over to see what happens when you try to launch a LEGO (or another safe ammunition -this is called the load) from one side. The effort is the force applied to move the lever. Below is an example of a catapult I built using Duplos.


Extension: Build paper or cardboard forts, castles or other buildings as targets.


Key Terms: fulcrum, load, effort