Novel Engineering

When Literature Meets Science

From Little Red Riding Hood to Jack in the Beanstalk, children’s books are meant to inspire curiosity, engage young minds—and now—evoke scientific inquiry. Pairing language arts with science, Lower School Science Teacher Christy Moore recently tested a hypothesis of her own—a teaching method known as Novel Engineering, where popular children’s books are used to supplement science lessons. After reading a lesson’s assigned book, students work together to identify the main character’s problem and use science to create a solution.

Through Novel Engineering, a clever retake of the Three Little Pigs, known as The Three Little Javelinas, gave MICDS students the creative thinking to build tumbleweed houses in sand trays and test whether they could withstand the Big Bad Wolf’s (a hair dryer) attempts to blow them down—an innovative way to learn about the desert.

“Kids love creating and making stuff. Their creativity is unbelievable.”

Another book, Who Sank the Boat? allowed Senior Kindergarteners the chance to build boats and test whether they could carry a certain number of animals (weights) across the water. Other grades built parachutes for flying eggs or designed seeds for animals.

For Moore, the activities encouraged students to “flex their creative muscles and physically build something.” She shared, “Kids love creating and making stuff. It’s hands on. It’s building. It’s much more concrete, and I think the kids really like that. Their creativity is unbelievable.”