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Since becoming a mother, I’ve been amazed at how quickly and easily kids learn. Its so much easier for my kids to learn something than me. I have to be told several times, then read about it, then experience something to really learn it long term. My kids on the other hand, they basically just need exposure to it and a little hands on example, and its embedded into their long term memory. I started thinking I should start exposing them to engineering now, just to see what sticks. But I wanted to bo0ks to be interesting as well. I started looking, finding different books available at the library, and I came up with a pretty short list. Below is a list of books that both introduce kids to engineering concepts, and teaches them how engineers think.
1. If I Built a Car – written by Chris Van Dusen
This is a story about a boy who is telling is dad how he would improved his dad’s car. The improvements are fun, exciting, and useful! I loved this book because this is what engineers do! We are always looking for ways to improve what is already there. Whether it be a new feature on a car or a more efficient way to make a diaper, engineers are always looking for ways to make the world easier, safer, and more efficient.
2. Rosie Revere, Engineer – written by Andrea Beaty
The story of a little girl who wants to be an engineer, but becomes discouraged after failure. The message of this story is so true to engineer. Every engineer has faced failure at some point, whether in college or professionally. The thing with engineering is that failure is part of the learning process, and only leads to better inventions!
3. Simple Machines (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)– written by D.J. Ward
This book is an introduction to engineering mechanics, and reminds me of the first topic in my engineering kinematics class. It simply explains forces with toys and everyday items kids are familiar with, such as a baseball bat and seesaw!
4.Explore Simple Machines!: With 25 Great Projects (Explore Your World) written by Anita Yasuda
This book explores many of the same simple machines from the “Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out” book, but includes hands on experiments, which will help with deeper understanding. Teaching the concepts with a book and then hands on example is the same way concept were taught to me in college. Most of my classes had a lecture and accompanying lab to cement the concepts with concrete examples.
5. Step-by-Step Science Experiments in Energy (Janice Vancleave’s First-Place Science Fair Projects)– written by Janice VanCleave
Twenty-two easy experiments demonstrate various engineering concepts. Many classes I took studying engineering were about different forms of energy. Through the simple experiments, kids will become familiar with the various types of energy, and start to understand some of the terminology that comes along with them.
6. Janice VanCleave’s Energy for Every Kid: Easy Activities That Make Learning Science Fun – written by Janice VanCleave
This book includes all of the same experiments as the previous book, but includes a more in depth explanations of the energy form being explored. I personally prefer this book over the previous Vancleave book, because I like understanding the concept as much as possible before the experiment to I know what I need to learn from the experiment. But for those who just want to see a cool experiment, the “Step-by-Step Science Experiments in Energy” book is for you!
7. What Is the World Made Of?: All About Solids, Liquids, and Gases (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) – written by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
The building block of the world, and material science, is learning about matter and how it behaves. All matter can exist is three phases; solid, liquid, or gas. All matter has different temperatures at which they exist in these different phases, but all matter can exist either as a solid, liquid, or gas. This book explores phase changes by explaining how water goes through phase changes.
8. Forces Make Things Move (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) – written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
About half of mechanical engineering courses are about forces. Forces in college were introduced to me as non-moving, or static, forces, then moved onto moving, or dynamic, forces. This book introduces the basic principles of studying forces. It first introduces Newton’s three laws of motion, in familiar terms a child can understand. For example, the first law of motion is: An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. The book explains the first law by saying “Nothing starts moving until it is pushed or pulled. If you don’t push your toy car, it just sits there – unless something else pushes it (outside force)”, and “Once you are running, only another forces can stop you.”. These are very simple, uncomplicated terms that children can play with and understand. Along with Newton’s laws, the book also introduces friction and gravity.
9. Gravity Is a Mystery (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) – written by Franklin M. Branley
Gravity is the basis to understanding forces on earth, and “Gravity is a Mystery” provides a great introduction as to what gravity is. The book begins by explaining where gravity comes from, and that gravity exists between any two objects. It also explains the relationship between the size of a planet and its gravitational force.
10. How People Learned to Fly (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2) – written by Fran Hodgkin
Our house is near an airport, and every time a plane takes off or lands, my sons are mesmerized. My five year old usually asks how a plane flies, but our car does not. This book is a great introduction to the process it took for early inventors to learn about drag and lift. It also introduces the use of engines on modern planes to create more lift, enough lift to carry multiple passengers. Not a lot of detail is given, but this book will familiarize kids with the concepts of flight.
What do you think of the list? Are there any I have left off? I would love to learn of more fiction books for kids that teach about engineering, science, and math. If you know of any, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Looking for other ways to introduce you kids to engineering? Check out some of my other posts!
Tinker Crate: Circuits and Optics
Teach Your Kid to be a Reliability Engineer!
Teach Your Kid to be a Mechanical Engineer!
Teach Your Kid to be a Project Engineer!
Be a Process Engineer: Play “How’s it Made?”
Learn about Forces at the Splash Park!
Exploring Energy: How Are Height and Distance Related?
An Explosive View of a Dinosaur
Toys that Teach Engineering