Learning the Engineering Design Process with K’Nex
If your child has ever been to The Works Museum, they know how much we love K’Nex. They’ve also probably heard us talk about the Engineering Design Process (Identify the Problem, Explore, Design, Create, Try It Out, Make it Better). It’s at the core of our mission, and it’s something we hope we can encourage in every child that comes through our doors. Last summer, I ran into some incredible young engineers that exemplify this engineering way of thinking.
I met these campers on the third day of our K’Nex Mechanical Moving Models camp. It’s a four day camp where kids ages 9-12 get to build, explore, and challenge themselves with our enormous collection of K’Nex parts. I stopped by the room because rumors had been swirling around about a cool camper creation, and I was not disappointed. The boys were eager to show me their K’Nex lawn mower, and to tell me all about how they came up with their finished product (only one camper is shown – the other preferred not to be photographed). Here’s how they did it:
Identify the Problem
It all started with a simple diagram in a K’Nex instruction book. The boys saw the lawn mower and loved the idea, but knew they could improve.
The campers set out to find ideas. It wasn’t long before they found a more sophisticated lawn mower model left behind by a previous camper. They liked this idea, but still weren’t satisfied.
Design, Create, and Try It Out
The campers knew they wanted to make a lawn mower that was as big as possible, and they also knew they wanted to make it self-driving. They set to work designing and building until they had something that could move across the room on its own.
Make it Better
Success! The boys had a working lawn mower model, but they knew they could make it EVEN BETTER! Their model moved on it’s own, but not in a straight line. They tweaked their design over and over again until the mower drove in a straight line, but also allowed for manual steering.
More K’Nex Models
These boys weren’t the only ones with amazing K’Nex contraptions. Take a look at some of the other moving models the kids made.