TOP PICKS | 26 TOOLS

Best Engineering and Design Tools

Tech and engineering skills are becoming increasingly important for school, life, and work; the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have raised engineering design to the same level as scientific inquiry. When students engage in engineering practices, they'll be better able to solve environmental and societal problems that affect us today -- like preventing disease, maintaining clean water supplies, and dealing with issues related to climate change. Get your kids ready with these fun, intuitive, intros to the basics, platforms for creation, and hubs for inspiration.

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Top Picks

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Be an Inventor and Maker

Workbench

Find and assign STEAM tasks with dynamic project-based learning hub

Bottom Line: Dynamic resource for finding, creating, and rating lessons that support STEAM and PBL.

DIY Nano

Turn kids into budding nanoscientists who explore the tiniest things

Bottom Line: Scientist-reviewed videos and activities relate nanoscience to everyday life.

littleBits Invent

Top-notch tool empowers kids to invent, build, and control wirelessly

Bottom Line: Easy-to-use, versatile electronic invention set that works wirelessly with your hand-held device.

Curiosity Machine

Kids build, share, receive pro feedback with awesome engineering site

Bottom Line: Though it may not be an instant fit for your classroom, the exceptional quality of the site’s projects and processes makes it worth any problem solving.

Design Squad Nation

Classmates can compete to solve fun engineering problems

Bottom Line: Design Squad Nation makes engineering fun through hands-on activities and easy-to-understand scientific explanations.

DIY

Design, build, and share new things offline and online

Bottom Line: DIY motivates kids to tackle a wide range of problems with independent and scientific thinking.

Make: Online

Fuel creative makers with project ideas, reviews, and community

Bottom Line: Excellent DIY resource that empowers kids to learn by making and experimenting.

HowStuffWorks

Explore the world's nuts and bolts in this fab interactive info hub

Bottom Line: Interesting, well-researched articles make this free resource a gem.

Design and Test Solutions

3D Slash

Minecraft-like 3D modeling (and printing) made super easy for all ages

Bottom Line: This may be the fastest, cheapest route from idea to 3D printing out there, if you don't mind low-res, pixelated designs.

Autodesk Design Academy

Outstanding project-based tutorials for popular engineering software

Bottom Line: The projects found here are a great way to teach and learn digital design; all are truly fantastic (and free!), with everything you need ready to go.

The PocketLab

Gather and analyze live data anywhere

Bottom Line: A science sensor that pairs with your mobile device to gather and analyze data is perfect for inquiry-based learning.

SketchUp

Make learning meaningful through 3D design

Bottom Line: SketchUp is a fantastic, subject-agnostic tool that does take time to learn but helps students gain truly useful, transferable skills.

Tinkercad

Amazingly simple yet powerful and flexible online CAD tool

Bottom Line: A big step forward in making 3-D design more accessible and social.

Get Inspired and Learn

NOVA

Compelling science videos have high-quality classroom applications

Bottom Line: Stellar simulations, teacher guides, and other activities can stand on their own, and they're enhanced with high-quality video content.

PBS LearningMedia

Impressive collection of classroom-ready, free digital resources

Bottom Line: Excellent free site has thousands of valuable, high-quality digital resources for students and teachers.

BrainPop

Clever animated hosts Tim and Moby masterfully tackle complex topics

Bottom Line: Cartoon videos in this extensive collection break down ideas in clever and thoughtful ways.

Ted-Ed

Support kids' sense of wonder with outstanding short videos

Bottom Line: Excellent, engaging videos and support for flipped-class lessons with an incredible community of thinkers and doers.

Engineer Girl

Female engineers give girls career advice on this visually appealing site

Bottom Line: Empowering tool encourages girls to explore engineering but is mostly static and best-suited for choosing courses and looking at colleges.

Couragion

Individualized STEM career exploration targets students' values

Bottom Line: Students identify career values and use them to evaluate STEM options.

Play with Simulations and Games

Simple Machines by Tinybop

Excellent elementary NGSS engineering practices embedded in fun games

Bottom Line: Fun gameplay lets kids explore important physics concepts in a solid standards-aligned context.

Minecraft: Education Edition

Stellar collaboration tools, controls make Minecraft classroom-ready

Bottom Line: An excellent tool to engage students in learning, collaboration, and critical thinking is now more accessible than ever to teachers.

Inventioneers Full Version

Budding engineers create design solutions with fun physics puzzler

Bottom Line: A fun, engaging way to boost critical-thinking and problem-solving skills while learning about important science and engineering practices.

Contraption Maker

Solve problems, puzzles, brain teasers while creating wacky machines

Bottom Line: Hands-on problem-solving leads to great fun and independent learning with the right curricular wrap-around to make connections between what kids are doing and what they need to know.

Minecraft

Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep

Bottom Line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.

Algodoo

Sandbox tool enables engaged, conceptual physics inquiry

Bottom Line: A robust, free pedagogical tool that's like a digital workbench where kids build and apply conceptual science knowledge.

Kerbal Space Program

Design and launch a rocket into space in realistic astrophysics sim

Bottom Line: This accurate rocket sim encourages trial-and-error learning and makes for great (and often explosive) physics and engineering experiments.

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