Engineering Fun in Kindergarten

In Gaylynn Nakamatsu’s kindergarten class, a mashup of literature and engineering led to creative hands-on learning. Students were tasked with creating a model car for a storybook character.

First up, was the design. After reading from a selection of books, including “Flight School” and “A Visitor for a Bear,” students discussed their characters, then reflected on what those characters would need from a vehicle.

“As they were designing cars for Bear, Mouse, Penguin and Ostrich, students had to think about meeting the desires, likes, needs and wants of the character’s and not their own, which can be a tough lesson,” Nakamatsu said.

Then came prototyping with Taryn Loveman, director of Design Technology and Engineering. Students built a LEGO model of their car, complete with a floor board, frame rails, axils and chassis, and tested it on a ramp.

After they got their design just right, students translated it to cardboard with the help of Liz Castillo, a Design Technology and Engineering faculty member. Castillo taught the basics of creating cardboard attachments for the car parts and using makery tools, such as the hot glue gun, cardboard scissors and the zip-snip for cutting cardboard. As the final touch, students added fun embellishments for their book characters. 

Throughout the project, excitement grew as students took what they learned and applied it to building their cars for their characters. “The excitement was sky high during the car fabrication unit,” said Nakamatsu. “We had planned to keep the cars in the classroom a bit longer, but the children were eager to take them home immediately.”

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