Novel Engineering Guide

See below for a full explanation of each step!

Read the Book and Identify Problems

While you are reading the book, make sure you stop and discuss with your class the problems and challenges the characters are facing.  Have your students generate a list of problems, and keep it visible somewhere in the room to refer back to later.  

Define Problems and Brainstorm Solutions

Have a discussion with your class about the list of problems they just generated. Make sure students have a clear understanding of the needs of the characters and the constraints that are present in the book’s plot.  Introduce the idea of a client/engineer relationship – the client needs help, and the engineer is now working for the client.  The student becomes the engineer, and the character becomes the client.  Students should work in teams to choose a problem to solve through the engineering design process and brainstorm possible solutions.

Design Solutions

In teams, students plan and build a functional solution that addresses the needs and criteria of the character/client as well as the constraints imposed by the story’s plot and setting.

Get Feedback

As students create their functional designs, they should also be testing to make sure that their solutions meet the needs of the characters/clients.  Have each group present their solutions-in-progress to the class to get feedback and suggestions from peers.

Improve Solutions

Students use data gathered during design testing and feedback from classmates (during presentations) to revise and improve their designs.


Sharing can be done in several different ways, including student presentations of final solutions, student reflections on their problem solving and design process with the class, writing a new chapter of the story that includes their solution, or making an advertisement for their engineered solution.

Post Solutions

Post your student solutions (this can be one group, or many groups, but one group per post, please). View with your class how other students from all over are approaching the same challenge and get inspired!


Vote on your favorite solution and we will announce the winner at the end of the challenge cycle!