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Hands-On Engineering

Mindprint Rating


Mathematics Science ^Music, Art and Makerspaces ^21st Century Skills Social-Emotional Learning All Ages Workbook


Flexible Thinking Abstract Reasoning Spatial Perception

Mindprint Expert Review


  • Provides real-life design and engineering projects that students will be motivated to participate in creating.
  • Each chapter provides a challenge that utilizes engineering and physics concepts and mathematical skills, with the underling goals of developing important critical thinking, flexible thinking, and problem solving skills.
  • The project materials are readily available and the book provides a letter to parents requesting collection of the materials that can be photo-copied and sent home.


  • The lessons and activity instructions do not provide ideas for accommodations for students with weaker skills, so teachers will need to carefully think through any modifications that need to be made, such as reading through the worksheets as a class or simplifying the procedure steps on the board.
  • While many science and math terms are defined in context, there is no look-up option for vocabulary words, so teachers might need to supplement by going over new terms.
  • Chapter titles are fun and the general topic can be inferred in most cases, but to find specific skills covered, teachers will have to go to the Purpose and Objectives section of each chapter.

Mindprint Expert Review

Hands-On Engineering provides teachers with 26 engaging engineering lessons and hands-on activities to use with their classes. Each lesson is designed to develop scientific and mathematical skills, as well as the underlying problem solving, abstract reasoning and creative thinking skills. Teachers are provided with a detailed overview of how to use the book, as well as step-by-step instructions for each lesson, corresponding activity, and student worksheets. Each lesson has individual learning and discovery along with a team design challenge, such as building a hammock or a raft. Teachers are provided with clear guidance on materials, goals, preparation and procedure. Through the challenges, students identify, analyze and solve real problems which makes learning meaningful. They are led through the design process of reading background information from web sources, sketching individually, collaborating with a team, and then testing their creation. After completing a project they are led through the "post-production process" where they ask themselves questions such as: Does our creation work? How well does it work? Was there another way to go about this challenge? What could we have done better of differently?

Although the book is designed for grades 4 through 7, fourth grade students might easily struggle with some of the activities, and even older students might find different aspects very challenging. Teachers will definitely want to to try the activities on their own first, and determine if there should be accommodations for students who have weaker skills or steps to consider omitting for the class. For example, students with attention or organization weaknesses might need the challenge worksheets to be broken down into smaller steps. Or to minimize the reading load, a teacher might decide to read through the information and questions in the "Individual Activity" section as a class instead of having the students do that part independently. Teachers also might want to give consideration to group assignments to ensure that every group has the capabilities of completing the assignment yet all students are able to effectively contribute to the group's success. Overall, the activities provided are engaging and manageable and students will gain valuable experience in tackling engineering problems with tangible results, provided they are given the appropriate support.

Academic Benefits

Improves academic skills

  • Provides sufficient and varied types of practice problems to maximize understanding and generalization of the targeted skill/concept
  • Manufacturer claims alignment with Common Core/Known Standards
  • Presents educational concepts accurately
  • Explains answers so students can learn from mistakes
  • Better for teaching the skill to new or struggling learners
  • Better for practicing or refreshing the skill
  • Skills are practiced through authentic, meaningful problems (not just rote practice)


Engaging for the Mindprint recommended age range

  • Appropriate for a broad age range to use and enjoy
  • Subject matter and problems are relevant, interesting and authentic to students
  • Includes reward stickers
  • Visually stimulating and appealing (uses student-centered pictures, colors, and themes)
  • Graphics and overall feel of the workbook is appropriate for the target age range
  • Relative to most workbooks, fun to use from a child's perspective
  • Offers ongoing, progressive challenge
  • Overall - Enjoyable. Given the option, students would choose this option

Easy to Use

Understandable for children in the Mindprint recommended age range

  • Provides teaching guidance for adults to support the child and set appropriate goals
  • Student should be able to use independently after first use
  • Specific topics/lessons are easy to find
  • Presents information in multiple formats (voice over, pictures and text, etc.)
  • Overall - Easy to use

Cognitive Concerns

May not be advisable for students with the following cognitive needs

  • Attention
    • Age inappropriate amount of work which could overwhelm or discourage students
    • Directions may be confusing for students using independently
  • Organization
    • Age inappropriate amount of work which could overwhelm or discourage students
    • Directions may be confusing for students using independently
  • Working Memory
    • Directions may be confusing for students using independently
    • Student will need to copy or write multi-digit math problems
    • Requires flipping between pages to complete work

Manufacturer Description

With its varied and engaging activities, "Hands-On Engineering" prompts students to understand and apply the methodologies of design and engineering as they create innovative solutions to challenges. Each challenge requires students to think analytically, assess new situations, and solve a hands-on, real-world problem. As students design their own boats, skyscrapers, wheelbarrows, hammocks, and more, they will need perseverance, imagination, and teamwork. This book's emphasis on practical skills, problem solving, and collaboration makes it an ideal tool with which to teach valuable 21st-century skills.