Excellent Engineering, written by Rob Beattie and illustrated by Sam Peet, is a book filled with engineering experiments and constructions to do at home with some common household objects. This book is recommended for children ages 5 and up. There are 35 projects in total that can be completed, which are divided into three categories: structural, mechanical, and electrical. Structural projects involve building stuff that’s designed to stay up on its own, support other things (such as a bridge), or resist outside forces (like an earthquake). Mechanical projects involve making things that move and electrical projects involve creating things that use electricity, electronics, and magnetism. The projects are rated in difficulty using a traffic-light system to label each project. The traffic-light system specifies “Green '' as meaning no adult help is required and kids can easily complete the project on their own. “Amber'' means that some steps need an adult to supervise or carry out the task. These steps usually involve knives, fire, or a substance that needs handling with care. “Red” means an adult is needed on hand for the entire project to supervise because there are multiple potentially dangerous steps for kids. While the projects do mostly use items easily found around the house, there are some items the book advises users to buy ahead of time. Some of the items the book considers common household objects are not necessarily common anymore (like plastic straws or DVDs), so it’s important to check the experiment before beginning to make sure all the materials needed are easily accessible.
Completing these projects teaches kids how to use critical and creative thinking as well as design skills. Each project describes how the experiment relates to the real world and discusses the engineering principles used in the project. Not only do kids get to build cool projects, but they also learn about engineering and how their projects are relevant to work being done in industry. Excellent Engineering is a great hands-on book for children interested in engineering!