Sample Books

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Sample books used by Novel Engineering Teachers and Projects designed by Novel Engineering Students

Novel Engineering projects are designed around books that teachers choose, generally trade books with interesting plots, rich characters and detailed descriptions of the setting.  As they read the text, students are prompted to identify problems faced by characters in the text and whether these problems are ones that might be addressed with a product or process that they students could design in the classroom. The following table gives a snapshot of the books some Novel Engineering classrooms have used, problems identified by the students and solutions designed and built by students.

Book Grade Plot Problems identified by students Solutions designed by students
The Snowy Day -Ezra Jack Keats 1st Peter plays in the first snowfall of the year and makes a snowball to keep. It melts in his pocket and he is sad and worried the snow will be gone. Keeping Peter’s snowball longer. Insulated snowball savers-Portable insulated snowball savers
Clementine -Sarah Pennypacker 2nd Clementine is a 2nd grader living in NY. She and her family live in a high rise where her father is the custodian. He is trying to keep the building clean and safe and get rid of the pigeons. Clementine helps her father the custodian keep pigeons off the building. Owl: with movable wings and attached megaphone that projects predator sounds.-Fan with large blades that will deter pigeons from landing on ledge.
The Three Little Javelinas -Susan Lowell 1st/2nd Three little javelineas try to keep the coyote from eating them. How to help the coyote get his meal or how to protect the javelinas. House with trick chimney’s that will discourage the coyote.-House with a roof that has spikes on it so the coyote can’t get to chimney.
Colonial Times -Ann McGovern 2632715 3rd Expository book describing the lives of people in the English colonies before the Revolutionary War Transporting water and watering gardens-Dirty water-Picking vegetables Garden watering system using central place to dump buckets of water and tubes for distribution-Filtration system for removing dirt from water-Hinged vegetable picker with a long handle
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler -E.L. Konigsburg  51h+xlTVhFL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ 4th Claudia and Jaime run away from home and stay at the MET in NYC. They face challenges such as a shortage of funds, avoiding detection, and the desire to learn about a mysterious sculpture that may have been created by Michelangelo.  Carrying around $24 in loose change-Getting around the city without paying too much-Seeing the statue when it is always surrounded by crowds A backpack with a padded false bottom to hide money and muffle the sound-A scooter made from found materials with a wheel system created from rows of ping pong balls-A telescoping periscope with adjustable mirror flaps
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl James-and-the-Giant-Peach 4th James lives with two aunts who treat him badly. James drops magic crystals by a peach tree and creates a giant peach and some large talking insect friends. The peach floats during a sea voyage and takes to the air with the help of a flock of seagulls. James is trapped by a tall fence at his aunts’ house-Cloud people throw ice balls at the peach as it floats by-The peach gets stuck on the spire of a skyscraper. Prototype of a trampoline and figuring out how to position it so James does not hit the wall-Ice tube deflection system – a tube with a build in slingshot to send the ice ball back at the cloud people-Small-scale LEGO Crane to lift the peach off the spire and place it on a truck
City of Ember -Jeanne DuPrau 9780385371353_p0_v1_s260x420 5th Ember was built centuries ago and far underground to protect a group of people from nuclear war. The city’s people do not know that they are underground or that they need to return to the surface. Lina and Doon learn that Ember is doomed and figure out how to escape. Carrying Lina’ toddler sister during the long trip out of Ember-No communication system between houses at night when lights are off-It will be difficult to transport everyone in Ember to the surface A carrier designed to carry a toddler safely and comfortably-A system to carry messages between houses using string, pulleys and bells-A Ferris wheel-like system for carrying people up and out of Ember
The Most Dangerous Game -Richard Connell


6th A professional hunter is marooned on a deserted island and becomes the prey of a fellow hunter that lives on the island. Escaping the Tower.-Walking on quicksand Zipline-Pipe to divert smoke
Island of the Blue Dolphins -Scott O’Dell


6th-8th Based on true events; a young woman is stranded on an island after her tribe abandons their home. She has to survive, find shelter and food, and protect herself from the elements and a pack of wild dogs. Getting food without using a weapon. Women are not allowed to touch or use them-A sturdy shelter that can withstand the elements and protect her from the wild dogs-Ways to protect and store her food in order to keep it from other animals-Protection from the wild dogs Woven fish catchers with long handles and bait inside to lure fish inside the catcher-Pulley system so the main character can suspend food in baskets away from animals