FAQs

Novel Engineering Related Questions

What is Novel Engineering?

Novel Engineering is an integrated approach to teaching engineering and literacy. As part of Novel Engineering, students develop projects based on texts they read in English language arts or other content classes, such as history. The characters become their clients and students pull from the text to scope problems and set constraints as they engage in engineering design.

How can I participate in Novel Engineering Challenges?

To participate, you just need to sign up for an account. You only need one account to post multiple groups’ work. Read the book with your students, have them build solutions, and then post each group’s solution on the website.

How do I do Novel Engineering?

You begin with students reading a book and identifying and writing down the problems they notice that the characters encounter. Students work through the engineering design process as they plan, build, and revise their designs. The teacher’s role during Novel Engineering is to act as a facilitator and support students as they realize their ideas. There is a more detailed description on this website.

Is there any research behind the Novel Engineering approach?

Yes, Novel Engineering is based on six years of research and began as a National Science Foundation grant to look at engineering and young students and how to support teachers. More information about Novel Engineering research can be found at http://www.novelengineeringchallenges.org/publications/.

How long will it take to do Novel Engineering?

Outside of time to read and discuss the book, planning, building, and sharing can take as little as two hours. Of course, the more time students have the more often they will be able to test their designs and make design modifications.

What happens during a typical Novel Engineering activity?

A Novel Engineering unit begins with students reading a book, either independently, in a group, or a class read-aloud, and listing problems the characters encounter as they read. Next, students work in pairs to define a problem and brainstorm solutions. After planning, the students build their functional prototypes and then make changes based on feedback from testing their designs as well as from peer review. After making changes based on the feedback, the students complete a culminating activity that may include a presentation or short writing assignment.

Can I get more information about Novel Engineering?

To learn more about Novel Engineering, go to http://www.novelengineeringchallenges.org/more-about-novel-engineering/. If you would like to know more about the Novel Engineering approach and the research behind it, go to http://www.novelengineering.org.

Website and Logistics Questions

How do I sign up for Novel Engineering Challenges?

To sign up for NE Challenges, go to “Get Started!” and create an account. There are a few questions for you to answer. Once you do that, you will get an email that will help you log into your account.

How much does it cost to participate?

Participation in Novel Engineering Challenges is free. We’ve made sure that the challenges can be completed with inexpensive materials in hopes that all students can participate.

How many students do I need to have?

You can enter multiple groups’ designs, but you need to have at least two for a submission.

Is there a limit to how many students can be in a group?

There is no official limit, but we’ve found that pairs of students work best. Usually the students’ designs are not complicated enough to need larger groups. When working in larger groups, we’ve found that some of the students do not participate in the building since there is not enough work for everyone.

When are the challenges announced?

The books for the challenges will be announced on March 5, June 5, and September 4, 2017.

What are the necessary materials?

Suggested materials consist of materials that are readily available: recyclable, craft, and office materials so that it will be easy to gather materials for a challenge. For more detailed suggestions, visit http://www.novelengineeringchallenges.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/TeacherPlanning_Muncha.pdf

How do I post my students' work? Or edit one of my existing posts?

To post work, go to http://www.novelengineeringchallenges.org/challenge-2-tales-of-a-fourth-grade-nothing/ and include the problem students solved, their solution, and then a picture or a video with a brief description of the design. You can also go back to edit any post once you’ve submitted them by navigating to the “edit my post” on the right sidebar.

How long do the challenges last?

You can start working on a challenge as soon as the book for it is announced. The submission and voting period is open for about two months.

How many times am I allowed to post for one challenge? Can I have one post for each of my student groups?

You can post a solution for each group of students.

Determining a Winner and Awards

How do I know if I win?

If you win, the Novel Engineering Challenges team will email you.

How do you pick the winner of the challenge?

There are two opportunities for winning:

Popular Vote – Popular vote is determined by tallying the on-line votes on Submissions. The top ten Submissions for each Challenge are identified and recognized with the prizes.

Judge’s Choice – Three Judge’s Choice Winners will be selected for each Challenge by a panel appointed by Sponsor (the “Judges”). Submissions will be assessed against the following criteria: Originality of solution problem selected, Functionality of solution, and Solution’s impact on the story or character.

When are the winners posted?

The winners will be posted on the website within a week of the close of voting.

What do we get if we win?

There are no monetary awards for the competition. Winners are:

  • Awarded a certificate of achievement
  • Presented with a small 3D-printed trophy
  • Featured on the website and in other media for their achievement