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Best Engineering Resources for Students

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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Inventing and Making

Workbench

Find, create, and assign lessons in dynamic project-based learning hub

Bottom line: A dynamic resource for finding, creating, and rating lessons that support STEAM, PBL, and flipped or virtual classrooms.

DIY Nano

Turn kids into budding nanoscientists who explore the tiniest things

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

Gizmos & Gadgets

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.

SAM Labs

Kids use block code and wireless blocks to program, design, and create

Bottom line: With some perseverance, it's a great fit for PBL and STEAM, helping students learn programming skills and engineering concepts through invention.

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 Global

Fun engineering problems encourage classroom competition, innovation

Bottom line: Design Squad Global makes learning STEAM concepts 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.

Instructables

Endless collection of DIY projects; good for sharing and inspiration

Bottom line: User-generated projects inspire sharing and learning, though more refined navigation would make it easier to sift through all the great ideas.

Make:

Fuel creative makers with project ideas, reviews, and community

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

Designing and Testing Solutions

OK Go Sandbox

Creative music video-inspired STEAM design challenges

Bottom line: After watching OK Go music videos, kids will be excited to make new creations by integrating art, science, and math.

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.

3DC

3D modeling tool allows for simple or complex creations

Bottom line: This is a good 3D design and modeling platform, but it might take a bit of exploration to really see the true potential.

Tinkercad

Amazingly simple yet powerful online CAD tool turns kids into makers

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

Technovation Families

Family-focused site for learning AI well-suited to classrooms, too

Bottom line: Makes artificial intelligence and machine learning accessible to students of many ages and abilities.

UL Xplorlabs

Safety engineering site blends in-class experiments with online sims

Bottom line: Middle school students get to design and test solutions to actual safety problems.

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 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.

WhiteBox Learning

Design, analyze, and then build STEM applications

Bottom line: Complete learning modules include simple CAD design simulation tools, a digital competition, and options for hands-on building.

Planner 5D

Useful home design tool held back by bugs and a lack of help

Bottom line: The paid version has potential as a design tool, but it'd benefit from more thorough educational materials like a thorough tutorial and/or a community.

Inspiration and Careers

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

Treasure trove of lesson resources will benefit from adaptation

Bottom line: For teachers with time to sift through and adapt materials, PBS LearningMedia has a lot to offer with some highly useful support materials.

TED-Ed

Support kids' sense of wonder with outstanding short video lessons

Bottom line: TED-Ed includes excellent, engaging videos and support for flipped-class lessons with an incredible community of thinkers and doers.

TryEngineering

Helpful but aging engineering career site caters to all

Bottom line: This one-stop shop is best used for helping teachers plan engineering lessons and getting students involved with the community.

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.

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.

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 wraparound to connect what kids are doing with 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.

FLEET

Science-based shipbuilding mission sim is valuable but shows its age

Bottom line: A serviceable simulation for teacher-led physics or engineering lessons, or for students to get a feel for how different types of ships are designed and handle on the open seas.

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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