Novel Engineering

An integrated approach to teaching Engineering and Literacy

Inspired by kids and grounded in research, Novel Engineering is an innovative approach to integrate engineering and literacy in elementary and middle school.

Students use existing classroom literature – stories, novels, and expository texts – as the basis for engineering design challenges that help them identify problems, design realistic solutions, and engage in the Engineering Design Process while reinforcing their literacy skills.

Teachers play a pivotal role in supporting their students’ engagement by providing a supportive, responsive environment that will allow students to build on their ideas as they work on complex problems. Instead of prescribing a particular solution or process for students, we believe that teaching engineering involves listening to, understanding, and responding to student thinking. Design is about realizing the ideas of individuals and Novel Engineering gives students the space to explore their ideas through design projects.

Benefits of Novel Engineering

  • Works within ELA curriculum
  • Enhances reading comprehension
  • Engages all learners
  • Provides integration of different disciplines
  • Introduces realistic engineering problems
  • Builds 21st century skills
  • Meets common core and next generation science standards

What does Novel Engineering look like?

  1. Read a book and identify problems – Through discussion and attentive reading, students collect problems that characters face.
  2. Scope problems and brainstorm solutions – Students consider the needs of the story’s character/client and the context/constraints imposed by the text as they brainstorm possible solutions.
  3. Design a solution – Students work in teams to plan and build a functional prototype that addresses the character’s needs and constraints.
  4. Get feedback – Students test their solutions as they build and get feedback from their teacher and/or peers.
  5. Improve designs – Students use information gathered during testing and presentations to improve and revise their designs.
  6. Share – Teams can either present their final solution or reflections on their process to the class, write a story that includes their solution, or make an advertisement for their solution.