If you are a parent who is interested in engineering, then this article is for you.
Engineering may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering careers for your children, but there are many benefits of introducing them to engineering at an early age.
It is also one of those fields that isn't as popular in the school curriculum, so it can be a struggle to find suitable resources for your child.
As with any subject, the earlier you introduce them, the better! It is never too early to start encouraging scientific thinking and problem-solving in children. Here are nine ways that parents can promote engineering into their home life.
Here are 9 ways that parents can introduce their children to engineering:
Talk to them about Engineering
This might seem quite obvious, but the first thing you need to do is to talk about engineering with your children.
Introduce them to different types of engineers and explain what they do on a day-to-day basis.
Most of the time it's the lack of initial information that makes kids feel confused or indifferent about a field.
You could introduce them to engineering by reading books about engineering and watching documentaries about it.
You'll be surprised just how much they will pick up just by listening to you.
When talking with your kids, give them a clear image of what engineering is all about and how it affects our daily lives.
Even if they are young, talk to them about engineers who have made great strides in their respective fields. For example Elon Musk (SpaceX), Marie Curie (Nobel Prize winner), or Edison Stanley Lucas Jr.(inventor).
Once these engineering characters are real to them, they will be more likely to consider a career in that field.
Here's a list of the different types of engineers:
- Software Engineers design computer programs. They develop apps for smartphones, games for consoles, etc...
- Mechanical Engineers work in factories building machines like car engines or robots.
- Civil Engineers build bridges and airports. They also plan construction projects such as roads and railways infrastructure. These professionals have an important role because their task is not only to design and build a project but also to ensure that it is safe.
- Chemical Engineers develop new chemicals for different purposes such as cleaning or medical needs. They combine elements in order to obtain reactions with the goal of creating products tailored specifically for each purpose.
- Electrical engineers create devices like computers, cars, and machines...etc...They need an understanding of electronics when designing these items; they also test them thoroughly before releasing them out into the marketplace. These professionals work together with electrical technicians who install equipment on-site using blueprints created by engineers."
Play with a variety of toys that require engineering skills, such as blocks and building sets
As well as playing generic games, introduce them to games focused on engineering.
You can find some of these games online or you could get them at your local store or online.
Believe it or not, Lego blocks are a good starting point for younger children.
They are fun and your child can learn how to follow instructions while playing with them.
Many games, such as the ones made by Ravensburger or Learning Resources, for example, focus on engineering skills that kids will be able to use in their daily lives.
Introduce problem-solving skills to children
Engineers are trained to be critical thinkers; they use the scientific method when trying to come up with solutions for any given situation.
This is important because it teaches kids how to think outside the box and provides practical experience that will help develop their character throughout life.
Show them how engineers approach problems by asking questions such as: What would happen if? What might we do differently? And so forth... Give your child many opportunities where he/she needs to process information in order to come up with a solution that will help them overcome the obstacle.
Let Children Explore Their Interests
The best way to introduce your kids to engineering is by letting them choose what they are interested in and then talk about it. For example, if they like cars, you can explain how engineers work on designs for cars or even discuss some of the famous race car drivers like Niki Lauda or Lewis Hamilton.
If they love fashion, you could have them watch Project Runway where contestants are tasked to create fashionable clothing out of unusual materials while applying basic geometry principles along the way during their design process.
Let them discover new things that spark their interest!
Talk about the Problem Solving Process
Another great way for you as parents, or mentors, can introduce engineering is by talking through the process that is involved in solving problems (and how this applies to real life).
This will allow your child's mind to be open when it comes time for them to understand more complex concepts around problem-solving later down line.
Explain the Engineering Mindset
The mindset required for an engineer has been described as one where they look at things objectively without any prejudice towards preconceived ideas (or stereotypes) surrounding something like age, gender, race, abilities, etc.
This mindset is known as the Engineering Mindset and it's a perspective that all engineers should have in order to be successful at their job.
Explain what Engineers Do on a Day-to-Day Basis
It can also help if you talk about what an engineer does on a daily basis so your child will know exactly why they need this 'Engineering Mindset'.
For example: "An Engineer works for companies or organisations that build new products, machines or tools..." This way your kids will see how engineering isn't only used by scientists but everyone else who wants something built too!
Talk about different types of Engineers with them :) Show them articles like these where children are introduced to engineering from a young age.
Take Them on Field Trips to places
This one may be a little harder to organise, but it is possible. It's a great way to show them what engineers do in their day-to-day life and how they make our world better!
You would need to contact engineering organisations in your local area to get information on resources like this, but it's definitely doable.
Solve Problems with Them!
This is one of the most important steps in introducing children to engineering because if they are able to find solutions without any outside help then it will build their confidence and problem-solving skills tenfold.
For example: If you give them a puzzle that requires critical thinking (like Sudoku) or even just some building blocks - see what happens when you say "okay, now solve this". You'll be surprised at how quickly they come up with the solution :)
So there you have it. There are many different ways that you can introduce your kids to engineering, but at the end of the day it really comes down to what they're interested in.
If they have a problem getting ready for school and all their clothes keep disappearing... Talk with them about how engineers approach problems (like this article does).
It may sound silly on paper, but if it helps them overcome something like this then why not give it a try?
Let us know how things go! :)