BUILD IT Invent New Structures and Contraptions

July 25, 2012

Build It

Invent New Structures and Contraptions

By Tammy Enz

Capstone, Fact Finders, 2012

ISBN # 9781429676359

Grades 3-6


“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

Cool Engineering Activities for Girls

May 16, 2012

Nonfiction Monday is at Apples With Many Seeds.

Need a great engineering book for your STEM reading or collection? This is the book for you. I managed to get my deadline met and still post today! Take a look at this book.

Cool Engineering Activities for Girls

By Heather E. Schwartz

Capstone, Snap Books, 2012

ISBN #9781429676779

Grades 3-9


“Have you ever wanted something that hasn’t been invented yet? A machine that loads the dishwasher? Or a cookie so packed with nutrients it counts as a vegetable? Some might call these dreams wishful thinking. But daydreaming is the first step in engineering. Throughout history engineers have come up with some amazing innovations. They’re behind inventions such as the bionic arm, roller coasters, and even wireless phones.”

Following a brief introduction that explains engineering and its purpose, this book provides ten activities that can be done with simple supplies.  Girls and boys can make paper table, a water filter, jewelry from CDs, or s’mores from the Sun, along with a variety of other projects. Each activity gives detailed directions and a list of materials. The activities show science principles, vocabulary, and an explanation of the science behind the engineering project.

Back matter includes a glossary, Read More section, internet sites, and an index. With the summer break looming, this is the perfect book to trigger an interest in engineering at an early age and provide fun activities to do alongside reading. The consultant was the director of Membership Initiatives in the Society of Women Engineers.


Choose one of the activities from the book. Try it out with a group of friends. When you’ve finished, discuss the problems and successes you had.

Then brainstorm solutions for a current problem you have that might be solved through engineering. Write down the problem and make a list of possible solutions. You might find one that works—so try it out!

This fun website has 100 great activities for kids grouped by topics that relate to engineering.

This interactive website explains how some common objects are made through questions and video answers.

This website has lots of fun information and animation to answer a range of materials questions.

National Science Standard: developing possible solutions; optimizing the design solution; interdependence of science, engineering, and technology

Book provided by publisher from Capstone’s Snap series.


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