Novel Engineering, K–8: An Integrated Approach to Engineering and Literacy

by: Elissa Milto, Merredith Portsmore, Mary McCormick, Jessica Watkins, and Morgan Hynes

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New in 2020!
Download and read a sample chapter from this book to learn more.
With the Novel Engineering approach, “students become excited about what they are reading, writing, designing, and building! This excitement in turn helps them make strides in engineering and literacy, as well as in their abilities to work together, think creatively and analytically, and communicate their ideas.”
—from Chapter 1 of Novel Engineering

This book will both introduce your students to an exciting integrated curriculum and support you as you use it in your own elementary or middle school classroom.

Novel Engineering shows how your students can work through engineering design challenges inspired by a broad range of literature—novels and short stories, biographies and histories, or even picture books. By way of introduction, the book offers clear conceptual background and practical advice on how the approach works: Your students pull information from literature to identify a problem. Then, using details from the story or text, they go through an engineering design process to develop functional solutions for their “clients”—the book’s characters.

To support your efforts and bring the concept to life, the book gives you five in-depth case studies featuring the use of novels, a biography, and a nonfiction historical text. In addition to demonstrating what a Novel Engineering project looks like in an actual classroom, the case studies give you practice in thinking about what your students’ work might look like and how you would respond. One case describes a class in which students help the shipwrecked Swiss Family Robinson build a shelter to keep them cool under the hot sun. Another tells of students who design a hearing aid for the main character in El Deafo—and then style it as a fashion accessory.

You’ll see that the books used in the case studies are just suggestions. You don’t have to adopt texts outside your existing English language arts or social studies curriculum. You also don’t have to buy a specific building-materials kit. You just have to embrace the idea that literacy and engineering can support each other in your classroom—and then watch the excitement build.

Download a sample chapter

Grade Levels

Elementary Middle School


Engineering Interdisciplinary Kindergarten Lesson Plans Literacy STEM Teacher Preparation Teaching Strategies


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 5/28/2020Pages 318ISBN 978-1-68140-642-8Stock # PB449X

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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