Tech Machines

Machines with a Purpose

In this lesson children will design machines or vehicles to solve problems, and build a model to demonstrate how tools help people to solve problems and accomplish tasks.

0-30 min.


Tell children about a group of construction workers who are trying to build a brand-new tunnel to connect two cities located on opposite sides of a mountain.

Hold up a couple of LEGO® DUPLO® figures.

  • Ask the children to identify types of vehicles and machines that might help the workers with their tasks (e.g., a drilling machine to carve into the mountain or a cement truck to mix the asphalt for the new road).


Ask the children to build a machine or vehicle to help the workers build the tunnel.
Explain that they may use the building cards for inspiration, or design their own machine or vehicle.

Help the children as needed to attach some of the more difficult parts.
Once the children have finished building, ask each child to share their machine or vehicle with the group, describing its features and demonstrating how it would help with the tunnel project.


Facilitate a discussion about the children’s models by asking them to describe the part of the project their machine or vehicle helped with.

Tell the children that machines often have to work together or in a sequence (e.g., one machine makes the tunnel, another clears away debris).
Ask the children to demonstrate how each of their models helps on the tunnel project.


Explain that sometimes machines need to be multi-functional, meaning they can perform multiple tasks (e.g., a digger can dig up the soil and pat it down with the back of its scooper).
Tell the children that it is even possible to invent imaginative multi-functional machines like one that flies and scoops!

Ask the children to build a machine that performs two functions, tell them that they can choose whichever functions they would like.
Once the children have finished building, ask each child to share their new invention with the group.

Did you notice?

Observing the following skills can help you monitor whether the children are developing the necessary competencies:

  • Science - Using strategy and planning to solve problems
  • Engineering - Building physical models and illustrating how they function
  • Engineering - Understanding and demonstrating how tools or machines help people to solve problems and accomplish tasks

Teacher Support

Children will:

  • Design machines or vehicles to solve problems
  • Build a model and demonstrate how it works
  • Demonstrate how tools help people to solve problems and accomplish tasks

For up to 4 children

The learning guidelines from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Head Start, and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been used to develop the Tech Machines lessons. This Teacher Guide focuses on the learning values for math, science, and engineering. Please refer to the learning grid for an overview of the learning values referenced throughout the lessons. The learning goals listed at the end of each lesson can be used to determine whether each child is developing the relevant skills. These bullet points target specific skills or pieces of information that are practiced or presented during each lesson.