Ideas of Things to Include in a Tinker Box from someone with an Engineering Degree

A great way to help your kids to unplug, to have fun, and to be creative is to let them to tinker or be little inventors by creating a tinker box for them.  But what should you put in the tinker box?  Will any old junk do?  Well, you can put anything you want in the box and see how creative your kids can be.  One idea is to give them very basic items such as straws, popsicle sticks, tape, string, paper towel rolls, and rubber bands to see what they can make with very limited supplies.

STEM Tinker Box Ideas

Recently, I asked someone with a degree in engineering to name 5-10 cool items to put in a tinker box/inventor’s box for kids.  Larry,  graduated with an Engineering Technology degree.  He is currently a telecom designer, and he is currently in the process of starting his own design business.  He suggested the following items:  magnets, aluminum foil, double sided tape, batteries, wooded blocks/tooth picks, flexible plastic tubing, a syringe, food coloring, glue, nails/tacs, wire, plastic wrap, bottle, and an ink pen.  He said that with these items the bare bones of the fundamentals of circuits, hydraulics, structural/civil engineering, magnetism could be explored.

Larry also gave me some great advice on things you can have your kids do before they go to college.

Here is a portion of what he had to say:

“In elementary, and middle school, please explore the different fields. You can’t say you don’t like Science if you don’t really know and understand it. You can’t say you hate math, if you don’t fully understand what can be done with math. Often times the school system does a poor job of showing children the beautiful side of these subjects. It is up to us to educate our kids on the truth. Educational camps, books, toys, movies are all great. But it sometimes doesn’t click that these cool things can actually become a profession. The dots don’t click that these cool topics I’m learning about are directly related to a career. It is our job to link the interest these topics to actual professions.”

Some advice he gave concerning high school was :

“In high school, I would have explored my options more seriously. I didn’t know all of the choices that were out there (for) me education / training wise. Find your interest, find a degree or training program that aligns with your interest. Lastly, find ways to apply your education / training to a profession. Never simply go for a degree because you believe the end game will provide you a wonderful lifestyle.”

So there you have it:  some ideas of things you can put in your child’s inventor’s box and some great advice.  You don’t have to stop here with these ideas though.  Be as creative as you can be.  Include these items and then also include some other cool things.

Check out when I put together an inventor’s box for my kids.  I hope to take some of Larry’s advice and put together a new tinker box for my kids!  Have fun being creative!

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