Author Q&A: Beth L. Andrews Talks Hands-On Engineering
Author Q&A: Beth L. Andrews Talks Hands-On Engineering
PUBLISHED: Thursday, August 22, 2019 by Andilynn Feddeler

Hands-On Engineering (2nd ed., Grades 4–6) immerses students in the world of real-life engineers. The book is packed with design and engineering activities that can be easily conducted in the classroom using everyday materials and includes everything teachers need to help students think analytically, assess new situations, and create innovative solutions to hands-on, real-world problems. Learn more about the book and the importance of engineering in this interview with the author, Beth L. Andrews.


Q: Why are hands-on engineering activities important for today’s students?

A: Engineering is about creating new things that help people in some way.

Teaching students to use the design process necessary for engineering empowers them to explore solutions to complex, real-world problems. The benefits spill into almost every facet of creative and innovative thinking. 

Hands-on engineering activities are interesting, engaging, and allow students to become intellectual risk-takers as they connect with high-level content. The future is unpredictable; however, we do know that today’s students need these skills now more than ever.


Q: What’s your advice for teachers who feel they do not have the time to implement activities like those in Hands-On Engineering?

A: The application of engineering skills naturally weaves across disciplines. Time constraints are a given in most educational environments, which means we need to use every minute to provide the most learning bang for our buck. It makes sense to engage learners with exciting lessons that blend the core subjects in such a way that students need to dig deeper and think logically as they solve complex problems. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of what we need to stop doing in order to carve out more time to start doing more powerful, engaging learning.


Q: What’s your favorite activity in Hands-On Engineering? Why? 

A: Not to sound hokey, but I really do love each activity; however, in selecting one favorite,  I guess I’d have to go with the World’s Fair. Students are asked to construct a design that serves a particular purpose or addresses a specific problem in society. It’s an activity that stands out because it pulls together engineering concepts, reflection on previous designs and their outcomes, and thinking about local and/or worldwide problems.

The World’s Fair will always be relevant because the world will always have solvable problems. This particular activity serves as a compilation of the power of teaching engineering: to prepare individuals to be thoughtful, intellectual contributors who benefit our society and make the world a better place.

Our students will someday be living in an environment that we can only imagine. It makes sense for educators to prepare them to the best of our abilities for their future.



Beth L. Andrews has worked with gifted learners in grades 1–7 for more than 30 years. During that time, she has served educators of gifted learners as a mentor teacher, a GATE consultant, a coordinator of gifted programs, and an author of curriculum for gifted learners. Over the past 20 years, Beth has presented on numerous topics specifically related to gifted education and has provided GATE professional development for hundreds of teachers.