Digital Engineering Notebooks

A digital tool to support children’s engineering discourse.


This digital tablet-based documentation platform allows students to easily capture and record their design ideas and test results in the moment, during any kind of design task or challenge. It is designed to help students both meet the discourse demands of collaborative engineering design and engage more frequently and productively in reflection-in-action during design projects.

The notebooks provide a concrete artifact of a team’s process to enable deeper reflection, and the shared nature of the notebooks allows teams to learn from other teams’ work, contributing to collective knowledge building in the classroom. Preliminary research shows that the notebook tool mediates collaboration within teams, facilitates more sophisticated interaction with adults, and promotes reflective decision making, a central feature of engineering design.


Example of a student notebook, solving a problem for a character from the book Ruby Holler.

Example of Engineering Notebook

The notebook currently has 7 types of notebook cards. Every card type has a designated space for photos and drawings; test cards also allow short (15 second) videos.

Problem Card
Test Card
Feature Card
Issues Card
Idea Card
Final Design Card
Exploration Card

Students can view their cards in three configurations:

All cards view

All cards example

Timeline view

Timeline view

One type of card (here, viewing all of the Test cards)

Test Cards

Click here to view or download a pdf of all of the cards in this mentor text notebook