Engineering design challenges offer important opportunities for students to learn science and engineering knowledge and practices. This study examines how students’ engineering notebooks across four units of the curriculum Engineering is Elementary (EiE) support student work during design challenges. Through educational ethnography and discourse analysis, transcripts of student talk and action were created and coded around the uses of notebooks in the accomplishment of engineering tasks. Our coding process identified two broad categories of roles of the notebooks: they scaffold student activity and support epistemic practices of engineering. The study showed the importance of prompts to engage students in effective uses of writing, the roles the notebook assumes in the students’ small groups, and the ways design challenges motivate children to write and communicate.
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