1. Merredith Portsmore
  3. Tufts University, Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach
  1. Elissa Milto
  2. http://www.ceeo.tufts.edu/people/milto.htm
  3. Director of Outreach
  5. Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach
  1. Chris Rogers
  2. http://engineering.tufts.edu/me/people/rogers/
  3. Professor, Chair
  5. Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, Tufts University

Novel Engineering: An Integrated Approach to Teaching Engineering and Literacy

NSF Awards: 1020243

2016 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades K-6, Grades 6-8

Novel Engineering is an innovative approach that integrates engineering and literacy in elementary and middle school. It builds off literature already being used in the classroom and gives students the chance to go deeper into the text while addressing literacy and using the book as the context for engineering problems. As students read the book they identify engineering problems faced by the main characters. The students then take on the characters as their clients and design functional, realistic solutions that work in the classroom. An integral part of this process is students deepening their knowledge of the text’s setting and characters in order to develop engineering constraints and criteria. After problem scoping and designing, students build and test their solutions in the classroom. Feedback from these tests and input and questions from their classmates in share-outs allow students to iterate upon their solutions.

This video will present the typical flow of a Novel Engineering unit framed around examples of rich student thinking that is afforded by Novel Engineering. For example, during a unit based on From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg, two students discussed trade-offs for materials that they would use to construct a periscope. As they designed and built a working prototype they simultaneously considered engineering criteria – would wood or cardboard be sturdier – and criteria imposed by the text – which material would cost less, an important consideration for one of the main characters in the story who was very thrifty.

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