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Engineering in the Early Years

STEM activities are great for hands on learning experiences which are essential in the early years.

A great way to involve children in engineering and technology is building and then testing the strength of bridges.


To complete this activity you will need:

· Plastic cups or tall blocks all the same height

· Different types of paper - sugar paper, pages from a magazine or cardboard

· Small toys such as Lego block or animals


Encourage the children to rest a piece of paper across the top of two upturned cups or blocks. Challenge the children to experiment and see how many of the small items they can rest on the paper without it falling.


Allow children to explore the different types of paper they use to build their bridge, encourage children to experiment using different amounts of paper and folding paper in half. You will find that a piece of cardboard will be able to support more weight than a single sheet of paper.


Stimulate children’s cognitive development and problem solving skills by asking lots of questions:

“What do you think will happen?”

“Why did it do that?”

“What happens if we…?”

“What will happen next?”


Once children have explored using different types of paper, you can experiment with the amount of cups/blocks you use, place them close together or further apart and see if this changes the strength of the bridge.


Get children to think about estimation, how many objects they think the bridge will hold, this could then be turned into a simple graph that can be displayed in the classroom.


This bridge building activity is a great way to stimulate children’s thinking skills and get them involved with engineering, mathematics and scientific concepts such as flexibility, strength and properties of materials.


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