Brief Description:  Students will discuss civil engineering and build buildings for a city.

Grades: 3, 4, 5, 6

Time: 1 hour

Keywords: civil engineering, sturdy structures

Lesson Objectives

  • Students will understand what civil engineers do
  • Students will use the engineering design process to design and test their buildings


  • tape
  • glue
  • paper
  • popsicle sticks
  • cardboard
  • egg cartons
  • legos
  • Aluminum foil
  • Play-doh or clay
  • Dry spaghetti
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Other found materials


  1. Discuss civil engineering
    1. Civil Engineers plan, design, and construct public works, city infrastructure, and buildings.
    2. As a class, brainstorm buildings in a city that a civil engineer may have to design and build. Examples include: hospital, school, museum, police department, apartment building, houses, playgrounds/parks, airport, cafe/restaurants, church, bank, bridge, bookstore, etc.
  2. Students will be tasked with constructing these buildings out of the provided materials. The building must be able to fit 2 Lego mini-figures inside of it.
  3. Assign each pair of students a building and one building material. Students will can only use this building material and tape/glue to construct their building.
  4. After students are finished building, test them. Tests can include:
    1. Drop test
    2. How much weight can it hold?
    3. Is it water resistant?
    4. Can it survive being hit (imagine a tree falling on top of it)
  5. Students can redesign in between tests so their structure can better withstand the next test.
  6. Discuss. What materials were easiest to work with? What materials were most difficult to work with? What challenges did you face with this activity?

Extensions and Modifications

    • This activity is used for the Avengers-themed Civil Engineering lesson. Tests include being punched with Hulk fists or hit with Mjolnir and the drop test.


  • Build a ______:


      • Tell students that they will create their own classroom LEGO environment.
      • Brainstorm ideas. A few examples are:
        • Amusement Parks
        • Toy Stores
        • Pet Shops
        • Zoos
        • City/Town
        • Mini-golf
        • Airport
        • Playground
        • Circus
      • Students can use any materials to build different aspects of the above and test them.


  • Add electricity to your building/city!


    • Students should add lights to their building/house/city using LED lights, 9V batteries, and wires/playdoh.

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