You might feel a little more confident after reading “The Next Generation Science Standards and Engineering for Young Learners: Beyond Bridges and Egg Drops” from the October 2013 issue of NSTA’s elementary journal, Science and Children (S&C). The article has a chart comparing science and engineering practices, and you can see the overlaps and similarities. It seems that the thinking involved in inquiry and problem solving are similar, whether students are investigating natural phenomenon (science) or applying their knowledge to design products or processes to solve a problem or need (engineering).
In her blog, Early education in engineering and design, Peggy Ashbrook examines the engineering skills that even our youngest students already have. She provides insights, resources, and suggestions for building on these.
The Engineering Encounters column in S&C includes strategies that integrate engineering with science, support teaching children how to design solutions, and explore the ways engineers conduct their work.
Other S&C articles describe lessons with engineering components, too, and most lessons include a chart showing the connections to science and engineering practices in the Next Generation Science Standards.
You’re not alone in your concern. Most science teachers don’t have a background in engineering per se, so have fun with your young engineers and learn along with them!