Kids who invent, innovate, design and build are not playing; they are engaging in the same work as real engineers and designers. They often use the same tools.
Don't underestimate the power or necessity of this step. If you want to work with gears, take some time to look at objects with gears. Play with them. Get a good solid feel in your mind and hands for how gears work together and what they do.
Learn about circuits and load and Ohm's Law before you build a circuit. Electricity is serious business. It isn't necessary to be an absolute expert, but you should have a good feel for what sort of results you can expect from your experiments.
Design and plan your project. Draw a picture of it. Write a list of materials you will need. Estimate costs. Have a clear understanding of what you are getting in to before you start.
Obtain necessary supplies and tools before you begin. It is much easier to finish, and refine a project when you have all the materials at hand.
Build your project and test it out. Does it do what you wanted it to do? Try to figure out why not if it doesn't work as planned. Does it do something unexpected? Try to figure out why. Some of our most useful or fun inventions were accidental discoveries made in the process of trying something completely different.
Evaluate your project, and the process. What did you learn that will help you on your next project? Did everything work as planned? Was the project more expensive than you anticipated? Are there safety precautions you should integrate into all of your work? Did you have fun?
You may find it useful to maintain a journal, logbook, sketch diary or portfolio of your work and notes.
American Science and Surplus
Science equipment and surplus at low prices.
Delta Cad (free demo)
"DeltaCad® is a powerful, easy to learn CAD (Computer Aided Design) program designed to meet all of your CAD needs. It can produce accurately scaled architectural or mechanical drawings, or just pretty pictures to paste into your favorite word processor. DeltaCad is more than just a paint program, because you can edit, scale, move, rotate, copy, etc. individual objects, not just paint pixels. DeltaCad allows you to zoom in to draw fine details or zoom out to see the whole drawing."
How Stuff Works
"HowStuffWorks is widely recognized as the leading source for clear, reliable explanations of how everything around us actually works."
Definitions of the basic elements of machines.
Build It Yourself Toy Laboratory
Resources for helping kids to build their own toys.
Stimulating Children's Creative Thinking With the Invention Process
Step-by-step guide to help children get started with building inventions.
Create your own biological fieldwork lab with a backyard habitat.
A list of essential science reference books.
A list of essential equipment for home-based science explorations.
Science is the knowledge of many, orderly and methodically digested and arranged, so as to become attainable by one. - John Frederick William Herschel
©2000-2013 Barbara L.M. Handley