I wonder all the time about where we learn our problem solving skills and therefore how we can teach them.
Because I believe that most learning is going on in parts of our brains we cannot or do not pay attention to.
To satisfy my curiosity I started looking for examples of engineered solutions that kids witness when they are not thinking about learning stuff, but that list quickly became overwhelming on a variety of levels, so I backed off and reduced my search perimeters by looking for kids’ books that take different approaches to problem solving.
I don’t know if doing book groups based on a matrix of solution attributes is reasonable, but I am pretty certain that having a list of books that all look at issue resolution as a process where a plan is created, steps are taken, results are evaluated, and modifications are made is a handy thing to have.
Design thinking, engineering skill, problem solving techniques are hot topics right now, both in the real world and in education, so worst case this list will make you sound well informed. Best case this list could be a launching pad for exploring how people solve problems (big and small, real and imagined) in practical ways without wands, alien intervention or author contrivances.
This is a list of books where the characters use specific plans to overcome huge obstacles.
Worth noting as well that all but one of these stories is based on working teams.