Engineering elephants: Introducing young children to engineering

Emily M. Hunt, Michelle L. Pantoya, Abbye M. Reeves

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In this study, the authors focused on children from 2-8 years of age and asked the simple question: what do engineers do? The number one response was: "I don't know", the number two response was "they drive a train." While children are very familiar with professionals such as doctors, teachers, nurses, firefighters and policemen, they are rarely introduced to engineers. With this motivation, the authors developed a novel children's book on engineering: Engineering Elephants. This book is an outreach tool that introduces children to the dynamic world of engineering design through roller coasters, fireworks, and a plethora of other exciting adventures. The book teaches children about relevant topics such as nanotechnology, renewable energy, and prosthetics by engaging them through an interactive journey of an elephant and his questioning of the world around him. The text was strategically developed using the language of science (asking questions) and introducing vocabulary relevant to science and math using a lyrical pattern. This presentation will highlight the development of this book as an instructional aid but also detail the response of various age groups to engineering activities presented as a companion to this book. In particular, an elementary school district in West Texas designed a 4-5 th grade 3-week summer school curriculum around this book. Results from this study will have an impact on future generations by inspiring them to consider the exciting profession of engineering at an early age.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterials Education Development and Outreach - From K-Grad
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2011
Event2010 MRS Fall Meeting - Boston, MA, United States
Duration: Nov 29 2010Dec 3 2010

Publication series

NameMaterials Research Society Symposium Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0272-9172


Conference2010 MRS Fall Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBoston, MA


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