Novel Engineering

During the month of October, the Fourth Grade began a really cool project called Novel Engineering.  The concept is simple, yet effective.  

The students read a novel (in this case, a wonderful book called Esperanza Rising), then identify problems both big and small that the characters have gone through in the book.  Once the problems are identified, they are given a number of basic supplies and are given free reign to design a solution for the problem their group has selected.  

Halfway through the design process, the students present their creations to me, our Head of School Mrs. Page, and our Science Teacher Mrs. Breckenridge. The three of us listen to what they say, then ask questions to help improve design.  The students then go back and “work out the kinks” through modification and redesign.  

One important aspect of redesign is the vocabulary they use to answer our questions.  We don’t expect them to be able to answer everything about their designs, so rather than saying, “I don’t know,” the students are taught to say, “Let me get back to you on that.”  We do this so that when they get back to their designs, they’re already thinking about what they might do differently instead of what they “don’t know.”  It helps them stay in a positive mindset while they do something that’s pretty new to them.  

We’re starting to identify our problems now.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with!



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