So Much Engineering, So Little Time

“I achieved every goal I had in my classroom today, and it all went perfectly,” said no teacher ever.

You love your job, but teaching isn’t easy, and time is precious. Fitting it all in is a never-ending puzzle, and sometimes all of your effort seems to get lost in the mix as the day unfolds. An interdisciplinary approach can save time and improve learning by consolidating lessons, but it’s difficult to do it well all by yourself.

This is where Novel Engineering comes in—it combines your big-ticket item (English language arts) with new requirements to teach engineering, and guess what? Because the approach is so effective, the time you spend is directly related to what you get out of it.

A little can go a long way, but a lot can go, well, a lot further.     

Novel Engineering is an approach, not a set of prescribed activities. This enables a high degree of flexibility in implementation, supported by the constant of the engineering design process.

The new Novel Engineering Challenges take it one step further, and introduce the elements of competition and connection with students’ peers in other schools around the globe.

Novel Engineering Challenges is a great way to take the Novel Engineering approach out for a spin, and it can be used across the school’s learning environments.

  • Teachers can implement the Challenges in centers or as whole-class activities, picking up and leaving it as time allows.
  • School librarians can use them during specials or in collaboration with teachers in their classrooms.
  • Librarians can implement them as part of multiple sessions or as a one-time event.
  • Afterschool program coordinators can run them like an afterschool camp for a week at a time.   

Novel Engineering Challenges enable students to identify and design solutions for engineering challenges extracted from popular and commonly found novels and other texts.

Outside of reading time, challenges can be done start to finish in as little as two and a half hours, touching upon several Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards along the way.

All that in two and a half hours? Yes—after students read, the Novel Engineering approach encourages students to:

  • discuss and comprehend the book
  • ask questions
  • gather information
  • scope a design problem
  • plan and build

And of course, you can stop there, and your students will have had a great experience. But given the efficiency of learning via the engineering design process, every minute counts—and so with just a few more hours, you can deepen student engagement and learning and address standards more thoroughly.

In as little as six hours, your students can:

  • widen their discussions about the characters, setting, and plot of the book
  • cycle through more design and testing iterations that improve the end product
  • share their designs and ideas in groups
  • get input from their peers

The beauty of this is that you choose—Novel Engineering Challenges are easy to complete in a single afternoon, or can comprise a week of lessons. Either way, students are learning and having fun while doing it, and you’re addressing standards you never dreamed you’d address in an English language arts lesson.

We’ve provided a quick look at the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards employed when using the Novel Engineering process below. At a glance, you can see how effective it can be just by working through the first parts of the process, and how much deeper you can go by giving students the time to immerse themselves in the entire process from end to end.

Sign your students up for this year’s Novel Engineering Challenges here!