Engineering Design Process: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lisa Hanson

Lisa is a Continuous Improvement Coach for her school district and has taught in elementary school for many years. She has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

Look around you - there are amazing examples of technology everywhere! Who created them? How did they come up with their ideas? Engineers go through a detailed process to create great things. In this lesson you will learn more about the engineering design process.

What is the Engineering Design Process?

At some point in their lives, most people get an idea for a new invention or development that could make their lives easier, like a car that could drive itself. Creating something like this, however, doesn't usually happen in one try! There are many steps engineers use before their idea can become a reality.

The engineering design process is a series of steps that engineers use to help solve problems. There are many variations of this process and steps are repeated as many times as necessary to solve the problem. The diagram shows all the steps in the process.

The engineering design process is repeated as many times as necessary.
Engineering Design Process

Ask

Engineers must ask questions about the problem they want to solve. What is the goal? What are we trying to solve? What have others done in the past? In the case of the car that can drive itself, you might ask if anyone else has tried out this idea yet and why it might be a good idea? All these questions will lead you wanting to learn more.

Research

Research isn't just looking up things in a book or using the computer to answer your questions; it also includes talking to people who have looked at this problem before you. You look at what already exists and what mistakes have been made. You also examine what materials and resources are available to use. Notes are taken on all these things so new possibilities can be imagined.

Imagine

Imagining all the possible solutions is fun. During this part, you work with a team of engineers to come up with as many solutions as possible. No idea is a bad one; you are simply just getting your thoughts out. If you stopped after your first idea, you could easily fail because the first idea is not usually the best. As you are coming up with ideas, you may develop more questions and need to do more research.

Select and Plan

After you have looked at your needs, research, and limitations, you examine all of your ideas. Which solution is the best? After you have decided on one, it is time for your team to make a plan. Many engineers develop a diagram that includes the steps they will follow to create their idea and what materials they will need. This is the first step to making your idea a reality!

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