Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine

Danny Dunn and his friends found themselves caught up in the middle of an adventure because of their laziness to do their homework.

Characters and Characterization

  • Danny Dunn – a teenager who has a great interest in science. He admires Professor Bullfinch as a mentor. He always wants to invent things.
  • Professor Bullfinch – a stereotypical absent-minded professor at the fictional Midston University. The professor was also a musician who played the bass viol. He is patient and calm.
  • Mrs. Dunn – Danny’s only parent. She is a thoughtful and loving mother, and wise at the same time.
  • Irene Miller – Danny’s friend who just moved next door. She is interested in science, especially in Biology. She is a tough girl. She also gets mad easily when her friend, Joe, says that girls are nothing but trouble.
  • Joe Pearson – Danny’s friend. He is the poet of the group. He used to think that girls are nothing but trouble, but not until he got to know Irene better.
  • Doctor Grimes – a friend of Professor Bullfinch. Grimes is a curmudgeonly figure, rarely taking the teenagers seriously, and often trying to antagonize the Professor. Doctor Grimes was also a musician who played the piccolo; he and the professor would on occasion play duets.
  • Eddie Phillips – the snitcher. He is the villain of the story. He seems unintelligent for most of his classmates, but he’s not a total idiot.
  • Miss Arnold – their teacher. She is a good teacher. But, she gives plenty of homework. It is because she believes that homework is a way for the students to learn by themselves.


Danny Dunn and his friends, Joe Pearson and Irene Miller, want to get their homeworks done faster. Miss Arnold, their teacher, always gives them plenty of homeworks to do. She says that it’s her way of making the students learn how to study. The three friends think that these assignments eat up so much of their time.

Professor Bullfinch, the scientist who Danny and his mom live with, has gone out of town. He left his precious invention – Miniac – under the care of the teenage boy. The professor trusts Danny a lot since he has seen him work on Miniac. One night, Irene was asking Danny about their English homework. He didn’t know how to do it, so he suggested that they ask Miniac about it. The machine printed out the answers fast and easy. This scenario gave the threesome an intelligent idea. Voila! Miniac the Homework Machine – perfect! They loaded everything on their books to Miniac’s memory so that the machine will know how to do all their homeworks in every subject. This was supposed to be a spotless master plan of the three amigos. But then, Eddie Phillips, the snitcher, sensed that something was going on. So, he followed the three on the way to Professor Bulfinch’s laboratory. He overheard everything and told Miss Arnold about it. The three friends hated snitcher more for what he did. They got back on him. This made Eddie furious. That’s why, using what he learned while eavesdropping, he changed the temperature of the machine. This was a very big problem since, that same day of Eddie’s sabotage, two representatives were with the professor to check on his latest invention. One of them was Dr. Grimes. This scared Danny and Irene. Luckily, just in the nick of time, Danny finally figured out what was wrong with the machine and fixed it. This made Miniac famous and proved her significant and useful.

Going back to the problem with Danny and his homework, Mrs. Dunn had a wise idea to fix it. She told Miss Arnold to give them higher level homeworks. This was an agony for them because they still had to input all the data on the high school books on the machine. At the end of the school year, the three were awarded “HOMEWORK CHAMPIONS”. This disappointed Danny, because he didn’t expect that they were working a lot harder than everybody else.

The Conflict

The conflict of all conflicts in the story was, of course, caused by the villain – Eddie “Snitcher” Phillips. He was so mad at the three friends for setting him up. So, he planned sabotage. Having overhears what Danny was saying to her friends about Miniac when they were making their homework, he learned a way to cause malfunction to the machine. He changed Miniac’s temperature to make her cold. Danny was telling her friends about warming up the machine before using it. Because of this, Miniac had trouble on processing data and solving problems loaded to her. The worst part is, the professor just got back from his trip, with two scientists to check on Miniac. Professor Bullfinch thought that it was the right time to make Miniac known to the world. But how can that happen when Miniac was not working well? This was a big problem for Danny. The professor trusted Miniac on him. But now, she was out of control!

The Climax

While the scientists and Mrs. Dunn were having dinner, Danny and Irene silently went to the laboratory to try fixing Miniac. But, they weren’t able to figure out the problem. The professor and the two evaluators have already arrived in the laboratory. Danny felt very nervous about it. The two evaluators began testing Miniac. For the first problem they gave, she gave jammed answers. The professor was surprised by this since Miniac was working just fine when he left. Danny was trembling because he was given full responsibility over the machine. One of the evaluators lost his patience over Miniac. He said that it was just a total waste of time because – once again – Professor Bullfinch made a failure in his invention. Danny was shaking, freezing cold. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know what to say. And one evaluator was about to step out of the lab door.

The Resolution

Danny was getting ice cold. Irene told him that he sounded just like her when she was reading a jammed answer printed by Miniac. This gave Danny the idea that the machine was cold. He checked on the temperature of Miniac. The label said that she is in fine temperature. But inside it, it was actually adjusted. And with this, only one suspect came into the mind of the teenager – Snitcher Phillips. The professor warmed up Miniac and the machine did well again. The impatient evaluator went back in and both scientists were amazed by the speed and accuracy of Miniac’s answers. They congratulated the professor and told him that Miniac will be introduced to the world as soon as possible. As for Danny, he confessed that they’ve been using Miniac to do their homework. He thought that this was a wise idea. But, Miss Arnold made him disappointed when she gave the three amigos a special award – Homework Champions. The teacher said that they were actually doing a lot more work than everybody else since when they load information to the machine, they are sort of studying.

The Impact of the Story on the Readers

The story is a very interesting one, especially for students. I never thought that it would end the way it did. What the three lead characters did was not plain cheating. They wanted to save time in doing their homework. But, they still had to exert effort to enable the machine to know the answers. They had to load the information and program them by themselves. It was an additional task for them, but they didn’t realize it. They only felt the convenience of having a machine print out all their homework. Because of such comfort, they forgot all about the process of loading information. And their act of loading information to the machine was a way of studying. The machine might’ve printed out their homework but they know everything that the machine knows. This is the reason why they were crowned Homework Champions. Such a splendid award, don’t you think? However, this made Danny disappointed. He thought it was a wise and cool idea but it turned out to be geeky. They were studying – he never realized that. I guess, sometimes, people look for shortcuts but end up taking the longest path there is.

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