Novel Engineeringprovides a unique way to get students excited about both reading and problem solving.Through a program developed at Tufts University, elementary and middle school students read a book, identify problems the characters face, and work in teams to design prototypes to solve the problems. Students test the prototypes and receive feedback from their teacher and peers before presenting their creations to their classmates.So far about 700 educators from around the country have been trained in the program, with teachers and librarians working together to implement it in some schools. The selected books present a variety of challenges for different ages. For instance, third graders reading Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret honed in on the problem that Hugo spends too much time winding the clock; he also has to figure out how to break into a dresser. The protagonist in Ezra Jack Keats’s Peter’s Chair doesn’t like having his stuff painted pink and has grown too big for his chair; first graders devise solutions. The website presents examples of books that some Novel Engineering classrooms have used. Clicking on the cover image displays the problems students identified and the solutions they designed and built.
In 2016, when I visited Silicon Valley classrooms, schools, and districts, many educators told me they were personalizing learning. But I was puzzled by what I saw. When asked what educators meant by “personalized learning” I heard different definitions of the policy.
RobotLAB has launched Engage! K12, a platform that provides robot-based lessons for a range of subjects and age levels. Engage! K12’s interactive and hands-on learningexperiences are organized by high-interest topics, such as soccer-playing robots or autonomous cars.