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Engineering Notebooks

Engineering Notebook
Alexander Graham Bell's notebook entry from a successful experiment with his first telephone


An Engineering Notebook Documents your Work

Not only do you use an engineering notebook to organize and document your work, it is also a place to reflect on activities and projects. When working in a team, each team member will maintain their own journal to help with collaboration.

Your engineering notebook should have the following:

  • An entry for each day or session that you worked on the solution

  • Entries that are chronological, with each entry dated

  • Clear, neat, and concise writing and organization

  • Labels so that a reader understands all of your notes and how they fit into your iterative design process

An entry might include:

  • Brainstorming ideas

  • Sketches or pictures of prototypes

  • Pseudocode and flowcharts for planning

  • Any worked calculations or algorithms used

  • Answers to guiding questions

Extend Your Learning icon Extend Your Learning

To connect this activity to a historical instance, ask your students to research Leonardo da Vinci. Known as a famous painter, da Vinci was also a self-taught engineer, creating approximately 30 engineering notebooks, including the renowned Codex Leicester.
To relate this activity to inventions, ask students to research the process of obtaining a patent as well as the role of the engineering notebook in corroborating innovative work.