The Year of Engineering is a Government campaign that sets out to change our perceptions of engineering. It shows parents all kinds of things that engineering incorporates, that it’s a creative, varied career that shapes the world around us.
Many children are natural engineers, using skills like problem-solving and curiosity about the world to make things. Think about what your child does when presented with a cardboard box for example.
The Holiday Makers site, created by The Year of Engineering, is all about giving parents lots of fun ideas and activities to keep kids busy in the summer holidays. BritMums is promoting The Holiday Makers site, in a campaign sponsored by The Year of Engineering.
This awesome site includes:
- Free, fun, eye-popping activities to do at home, in the garden or even at the beach – all easy to access via the Holiday Makers website
- Weekly challenges with great prizes up for grabs
- Exciting events and days out across the UK
Trying one of the Holiday Makers Challenges
I was delighted to be asked to see how my children would respond to one of the engineering challenges. Until taking part I had not fully understood just how big a part engineering plays in helping us with everyday issues in our lives.
You never know how children will react when you suggest an activity. However, when I talked about them coming up with an invention that would solve a problem on a desert island, all three of my children were instantly keen to take part. Inevitably they all had different ideas on the biggest challenges facing someone stranded on a desert island.
Kids’ solutions to problems on a desert island
My youngest son was keen to find out a way to use the sea water for drinking without it tasting too salty. My daughter wanted to find ways to eat and wondered what she could use to make fishing rods and nets. Imaginations were stimulated as we came up with other potential problems you might face on a desert island. How would we ensure we were safe and able to deal with medical issues such as poisoning or an accident? What could we develop to ensure we could communicate if each of us were in different parts of the island? What if we wanted to escape? This led to discussions about building a rowing boat or a raft — which we felt might be easier.
The invention — and why
Eventually the children agreed that they would do something a little different and build a rack.
I was a little intrigued as to why an apparently simple thing like a rack would be so useful on a desert island. My son explained that it would be a safe storage area away from anything that might be crawling around on the ground. He also felt it could be used as a makeshift way of cooking by having a flat surface for cooking suspended over the ground. Placing a fire underneath would enable desert island residents to make meals. He stated that his thinking was based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
We decided we would also need cooking utensils to use on the rack. We hoped we could find berries, coconuts and edible flowers until our cooking rack was ready.
Materials and design
My older boys came up with a list of materials required, with the other suggesting where these might be found. They mentioned logs, sticks, and rope and wondered what they could use for corner supports. My daughter started thinking about the different shapes the rack could be, making several drawings to illustrate her ideas.
Future engineering projects
The children decided that after building the rack they would use the skills learned to build a swanky shelter for themselves in case of harsh weather conditions. It did seem that a momentum built up by engaging with the Holiday Makers project with ideas coming thick and fast.
I found myself loving getting outdoors with them and they did not mention their screens once on our desert island afternoon. They are keen gamers so this was quite a surprise to me. It was also wonderful to see them working together as a team.
Get your children involved & engaged!
The Year of Engineering is wonderful in that it provides fun and stimulating activities that will keep children engaged all summer long. You never know you might inspire your children so much that they decide to pursue a career in engineering
Check out https://www.yearofengineering.gov.uk/theholidaymakers to find activities for your child, including challenges in which they could win cool prizes!