Crash Course in Engineering: The Latest Iowa Children’s Museum Play Pack

Many of us are still being cautious about venturing out during this strange time of COVID-19. While I find myself missing movies, sitting in the library reading a book, and enjoying a leisurely cup of coffee at my favorite coffee shops, my son misses places like play areas and the Iowa Children’s Museum.

The Iowa Children’s Museum is open, but what if you don’t feel comfortable taking your kids out and about yet? Or you may need some activities on days when your children are at home.

The Iowa Children’s Museum has you covered!

In August, the children’s museum rolled out Play Packs — curated boxes of activities to entertain and educate your children. The first box, Out of This World, features a variety of hands-on activities centered around all things space, like stars, the moon, astronauts, space flight, and more.

You can still purchase the space box, and now a second box is available!

Iowa Children's Museum play pack

My son and I had the chance to try out the latest Play Pack, Crash Course in Engineering. I have long known I have a budding engineer on my hands, so this activity box was perfect for us!

Watch his excitement as we made our own unboxing video!


As you can tell, my son was super-excited! Each of the activities includes all the materials you need to complete it. You’ll just need scissors and tape!

The projects in this box include:

  • Tallest Tower: Learn about structures, then use cups, blocks, and other craft supplies to build the tallest tower.
  • Engineer a Bridge: Be a civil engineer! Design and construct a bridge that bears weight.
  • Puzzling Mazes: Make and master a maze that will puzzle your friends.
  • DIY Roller Coaster: Create twists and turns in your very own marble run roller coaster!

In addition to the detailed instructions and materials, there is a notebook containing graph paper for your engineer to sketch ideas, make designs, and plan enhancements. The notebook also has some good general engineering information about building with different materials.

Iowa Children's Museum play pack 2

So, what age is this box geared toward?

I would say it can be enjoyed by kiddos from toddler to teen! The projects can be modified to suit the age. For the littlest ones, the activities will probably be done collaboratively with you. The elementary crowd can likely do most of these independently (I found I was needed for things like holding materials together, tearing off tape, and reading directions while my 9-year-old son assembled things). And for tweens and teens, the projects would be engaging, and your kids may implement the designs and then use their creativity to expand on what they’ve started building.

Each project is well organized and labeled so you know what pieces go with what activity. Another bonus is the dress-up hard hat included in the box! In addition to the four main projects, there are some “extra” related activities. We actually started with one of these, an Eiffel Tower made from vellum paper. And it glows with the addition on a battery tea light!

Iowa Children's Museum Play Pack 2

We continue working on the Crash Course in Engineering projects — there are plenty of things to do to spread out over several days. Another cool thing about these Play Pack boxes is that you use ALL of the materials, even down to the box they come in!

Iowa Children's Museum play pack 2

You guys, these boxes are awesome!

Not only does each box come full of materials and project instructions, each one has a resource page with additional interactive content like educational videos, more projects, books, downloads, and more! But wait! There’s more! (Yes, that was meant to be read in your best infomercial voice!) The museum also has a private Facebook group you can join after purchasing a box. You can share your child’s projects, ask questions, see how others are using the materials, etc.

How can you get your own box or boxes?

You can then order online with options to pick up or have your box mailed. (Maybe a gift idea for out of town nieces and nephews, too?) Not only will you be providing your kids with hours of fun, screen-free, educational activities, but purchasing a Play Pack from The Iowa Children’s Museum supports this amazing resource in our community! These packs are one way that The Iowa Children’s Museum is working to sustain its mission and continue being a resource for families during this challenging time.

So order your Out of This World and Crash Course in Engineering ICM Play Packs today! And stay tuned for next month’s debut — a “magical” pack in time for Halloween! Additional themes are in the works for the upcoming months.

I can’t wait to see what the Iowa Children’s Museum team comes up with!

Other Ways to Play at the Iowa Children’s Museum!

Plan Your Visit

The Iowa Children’s Museum reopened its doors in mid-July with a number of new policies and procedures designed to protect the health and well-being of visitors and staff.

  • Admission is limited to less than 10 percent of regular capacity. Exhibits have limits for how many playgroups can use the space at one time.
  • Face coverings are required for guests ages 6 and up. Children ages 3-5 years old are also encouraged to wear masks.
  • The entire museum team, including front-line floor managers and PLAYologists, are required to wear masks and to complete daily health check-ins before starting their workday.
  • High-touch areas are sanitized throughout the day. A thorough, museum-wide sanitizing process is completed between each play session.
  • Additional safety infrastructure includes hand sanitizing stations, physical barriers at the front desk, directional signage, and virus-mitigating air purifiers in the HVAC system.

Online Ticketing

Online ticket reservations for a specific play session are now required for all guests, including members. Learn more or purchase your tickets  Play sessions are:

  • Mondays: Closed
  • Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Facility rentals are also available for small groups through the MyICM program. This one-of-a-kind play time is great for families, small groups, and to celebrate special days in a safe way.


For families who are not yet ready to return to The Iowa Children’s Museum, the museum has also launched a new ICM2Go program. These free and low-cost resources help families explore nature, learn about STEM, create works of art, and more from the comfort of their home.

This post was sponsored by the Iowa Children’s Museum. At The Iowa Children’s Museum, children can take an imaginary trip to the moon, explore the science of skateboarding, create messy masterpieces, and explore a pirate’s ship—all in one afternoon! Our learning laboratory is a unique space where kids and grownups can be silly, make mistakes, and create lasting memories.

Sara C
Sara is a NW Iowa native who moved across the state to become a Hawkeye! After her time at the U of I, she left for optometry school and residency before coming home to Iowa to start her “adult” life in Coralville. She was in clinical practice for 5 years before trying her hand at the research side of eye care, working on clinical trials in the pharma/biotech industry. Sara is a wife, mom to a 5-year-old boy, and step-mom to four teenagers! Because her son was born at 25 weeks and had a lengthy NICU stay, Sara is passionate about all things related to prematurity, especially parent support in the NICU. She loves connecting with fellow NICU moms, both online and in person. Sara also enjoys spending time with friends and extended family, reading, scrapbooking, organizing, knitting, travel, keeping up with tech trends, finding new wines to enjoy, honing her photography skills, and serving on the Family Advisory Council for UI Children’s Hospital. She’s a consultant for Jamberry Nails, too, which lets her dabble in her creative side.


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