Invent New Structures and Contraptions
By Tammy Enz
Capstone, Fact Finders, 2012
ISBN # 9781429676359
“The world is full of wonderful, puzzling, everyday problems waiting to be solved. Inventing contraptions to solve those problems is what engineers do. But you don’t need to be an engineer to invent like one. Ask how you can solve them.”
Author and engineer Enz explains her interest in engineering and conveys her excitement about the subject. With the emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) today, it’s great to find a book that addresses engineering for readers under twelve. This book does just that!
Build It focuses on how engineers go about solving problems using six steps of inventing. It explains the process of problem solving from an engineering point of view and then goes on to show readers how to solve specific problems that might occur in their world. The two to three pages dedicated to each problem list the steps and show a photo of what each step involves to create the new invention. The projects range from building a newspaper fort to making a pet watering dish. The projects are presented in the problem solving process and the photos are numbers for ease of following the directions. New vocabulary is defined on the page and in a glossary.
Each project also includes a sidebar telling about a success that came from a failed project, like how cereal flakes were discovered by the Kellogg brothers. The variety of projects will suit most readers and can be made with easily found materials. A few of the projects have steps that will require a minimum of adult help, but most of them can be done by the readers of this age. Back matter includes a glossary, read more, internet sites, and an index.
It’s good to see engineering defined and explained in a book for both girls and boys. It’s an excellent summer reading book but extends to the school year, as projects could be done in classes with groups. The relationship of math, science, and technology is evident and practical. What a great way to interest readers in STEM!
Try one of the activities from the book. Identify the problems and success you have. Then identify a problem you’d like to solve and use the 6 steps to help you solve it. Analyze what worked or didn’t work and show someone your ideas.
This excellent site has definitions, activities, and explanations about engineering.
This site has additional activities for kids.
National Science Standards: Defining and Delimiting an Engineering Problem; Developing; Possible Solutions; Optimizing the Design Solution
Book provided by Capstone Press