For newly home-based professionals, quarantine can entail an unpleasantly prolonged break from daily obligations and responsibilities. For those self-isolating with young children? It’s a very different story. To keep kids learning – and entertained – the James Dyson Foundation has rolled out a series of 44 science and engineering challenges that help engage young minds during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Organized as “Challenge Cards,” the 44 activities comprise 22 challenges in science and engineering respectively, and are suitable for ages seven and up. Requiring only common household supplies – from an egg and mixing bowls to a roll of toilet paper – the tasks were conceived by Dyson engineers as a fun way to teach scientific and mechanical principles.
For example, the “How to Make a Lava Lamp” challenge combines Alka-Seltzer tablets, oil, water and food colouring to illustrate the hydrophobic qualities of oil. By beaming a flashlight under the water bottle, kids also get an introduction to 1970s aesthetics.
Each of the cards is illustrated with simple instructions and graphics, as well as notes about the scientific – and historic – principles explored in every activity. For budding architecture aficionados, the instruction card for a toothpick geodesic dome includes both an explanation of the triangular structure’s rigidity as well as a nod to Buckminster Fuller.
Aspiring furniture designers can also make an armchair. With just cardboard – no glue, tape or fixing materials are needed – the open brief invites children to explore structural integrity. It may not yield a new office chair, but it’s a fun way to learn the basic tenets of design and engineering.
Available for free download via the Dyson website, the challenge cards (which build on the James Dyson Foundation’s youth education initiatives) add to the company’s ongoing COVID-19 initiatives, which include a custom design for ventilators – 15,000 of which are slated to be produced in the coming weeks.
From a toothpick geodesic dome to a cardboard chair, Dyson’s new activity set gives young minds a fun introduction to engineering.