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Excellent engineering and incredible inventors

Engineering is the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building and use of engines, machines and structures. 

To be an engineer you can be a scientist, inventor, designer, builder or even just a great thinker. Engineers and their creations improve the state of the world and make people’s lives safer and easier. 

Engineers can build tools and machines of all sizes, boats, aircraft, cities, roads, buildings, rollercoasters, bridges, tunnels, defence systems, vaccines and even stages for plays and music concerts.  

One thing they all have in common? They are creative! So whether you like science experiments, building bricks like LEGO or love cars and trucks you can be a future engineer. Get started with a bunch of great resources to practice your skills and learn about some of the coolest engineering feats and inventors in history. 

NASA for Kids: Intro to Engineering

Check out these books from the library to get you started at home:

Interested in more books on Engineering? Have a look at these titles.

Top 10 greatest feats of engineering 

The Great Wall of China The longest wall in the world and an awe inspiring feat of ancient defensive architecture, the Great Wall was built over 2000 years ago and it took around 220 years to complete all the sections of the wall. The total length of the wall exceeds 20,000 kilometres - that’s like if the whole of Australia’s coastline had a wall around it.

The Brooklyn Bridge is located on New York City’s East River and links the two neighbourhoods of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The bridges construction took 14 years and cost $15 million (in today’s dollars that would be more than $320 million). Building and construction in 1883 wasn’t as safe as it is today – over two dozen people died building the bridge – including the bridges original designer, John Roebling. 

The English Channel Tunnel is a rail tunnel between England and France that runs beneath the English Channel (a body of water that separates the southern coast of England from the northern coast of France). It is 50 km long and is used for passenger and freight traffic. At its lowest depth it is 75 metres below the sea bed. 

The Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper in Dubai and is currently the world’s tallest building. It has 162 floors and a height of 828 metres. It took 6 years to build and contains more than 39,000 tonnes of steel!

The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator (these are used to conduct basic research in particle physics). It consists of a 27 kilometre ring of superconducting magnets. 

The Itaipu dam is on the Parana River on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. It is the 2nd largest operating hydroelectric power plant (energy that harnesses the power of moving water) in the world. Construction began during 1971 but the dam did not start generating power until 1984. The energy generated is used to supply more than 80% of Paraguay with power. 

The Colosseum is an amphitheatre built in Rome nearly 2000 years ago. Amazingly, the colosseum still stands today and is a major tourist attraction that stands as a monument to Ancient Rome’s architectural and engineering prowess. The Colosseum was built as part of an imperial effort to bring life back to Rome. The Colosseum hosted gladiator fights, animal hunts and even pretend naval battles. 

The world’s tallest outdoor lift, the Bailong elevator (meaning the Hundred Dragons Elevator), stretches along the stone pillars that inspired the floating mountains in the movie “Avatar”.  Located in Hunan, China the elevator is 326 metres tall and is the tallest outdoor lift in the world.  The elevator can make its ascent in just one minute and 32 seconds. 

The Millau Viaduct holds the world record for the tallest bridge, at 343 metres high (taller than the Eiffel Tower!) and 2460 metres long. The viaduct is a multi-span cable-stayed bridge that crosses the gorge valley of the Tarn near Millau in Southern France.

The Great Pyramid of Giza is more than 4000 years old! Until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889, it was the tallest building on earth, now that’s a hard record to beat. The Great Pyramid’s base covers 13.5 acres (54,632 metres square), it’s made of 2.5 million blocks of stone and each stone weighs around 2.5 tonnes (2267 kilograms). It took around 22 years to build.

Want to discover more cool engineering feats via Britannica online? It is easy! Use your library card to access the full Britannica encyclopedia with videos, articles and images. 

Top 10 greatest inventors of all time

  • Wilber and Orville Wright were known as the Wright brothers – creators of the world’s first successful motor operated plane.
  • Nikola Tesla was the inventor of alternating current (AC) electricity and the rotating magnet field.
  • Thomas Edison was the inventor of the photograph and the incandescent electric light-bulb.
  • Leonardo Da Vinci is best known for his paintings – but he is also sometimes credited with the invention of the tank, the helicopter, the parachute and a flying machine. 
  • Alexander Bell is best known for inventing the first ever working telephone in 1876. 
  • Steve Wozniak is an American computer scientist and inventor, he is credited with inventing the Apple 1 computer, one of the first ever personal computers.  
  • Elon Musk is the creator and entrepreneur who formed SpaceX, maker of launch vehicles and spacecraft’s.  
  • Neil Armstrong was not just the first man to walk on the moon – he was also a professor of aerospace engineering and a maker of electronic equipment for the military. 
  • Soichiro Honda was a Japanese industrialist and engineer who founded the Honda Company. He started his career as a mechanic and soon became the leading maker of motorcycles.  
  • Hedy LaMarr wasn’t just a Hollywood starlet in the 1940’s, she was also credited with creating the frequency-hopping technology that is used today by billions of people: Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth.

Top 5 STEM online resources

  • PBS Kid’s Cyberchase Games In the world of Cyberchase, Motherboard enlists the help of three curious kids to stop the bad guys with their secret weapon: brain power.  Find games and activities here to test your skills. 
  • NASA Kid’s Club Welcome, Earth Kids to the NASA Kid’s club – a place to play games and learn about NASA.
  • Kids Ahead The Kids Ahead program is an initiative to create a virtual environment where kids will be inspired, learn and have fun with STEM activities. 
  • STEM-Works STEM-Works strives to create a virtual community to give children quality experiences that build their interest and competencies in STEM. 
  • The Carnegie Cyber Academy aims to trains its “Cadets” in online safety so they can protect themselves and others from Cyber Villains.

On the web

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11 Kid Inventors Break Down Their Greatest Inventions

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