Delaware to Launch NCTL Curriculum Statewide
July 10, 2011
In August 2011, the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) will begin to introduce the Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) curriculum into all elementary schools statewide. The Museum of Science's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) created the 20-unit curriculum which has served over 26,700 teachers and 1,833,000 students nationwide. Delaware will be the first state to roll out the curriculum statewide. The roll-out will eventually span all 19 Delaware school districts, and 22 charter schools, exposing 49,774 elementary students to engineering and technology.
The nation's largest elementary engineering curriculum, EiE is the first to focus on engineering and technology, to reinforce science concepts, and to collect data on both student and teacher learning. In 2010 Delaware highlighted Engineering is Elementary as one of its proposed activities for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education in its winning Race to the Top federal grant application. STEM education has strong support from Delaware Governor Jack Markell and former U.S. Sen. Ted Kaufman, co-chair of the Governor's statewide STEM Council.
Delaware DOE education associate of science Tonyea Mead (pictured on right) selected EiE because "it integrates engineering with science, language arts, social studies, and math. Also, it features storybooks with children from diverse cultures who face engineering challenges. Students learn best by doing, and projects like creating a windmill or solar oven spark their imagination and reading skills to solve problems through hands-on activities."
The DOE, in association with the Delaware Science Coalition, will administer and fund the program. The plan is to introduce one different EiE unit for each grade (grades 1 - 5), integrating it with their science curriculum. The DOE will purchase EiE books and teacher guides for each grade level. The Museum of Science has trained Mead, DOE education specialist John Moyer, and University of Delaware science specialist Chantel Janiszewski as EiE teacher educators. They will lead professional development for all teachers and science specialists in the state.
This August, DOE will provide professional development for teachers in grades 1 - 3 on designing and building windmills, bridges, and water filters, respectively. In September, teachers of grades 4 and 5 will receive professional development on designing alarm circuits and cleaning an oil spill. More training will occur statewide during the 2011-2012 school year.
Mead was first exposed to EiE at a Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education Conference in 2006. The unit was A Sticky Situation: Designing Walls. "I loved it," she says. "It was hands-on learning about engineering, science, and the Chinese culture as the kids built a wall." Her students were learning Chinese, so it was a perfect fit. "They worked together, asking questions and problem-solving. They were learning and having fun at the same time," says Mead. She was convinced that if she used these engaging lessons with more children, they would be excited, and state scores would go up. In fall 2011, she became the DOE education associate of science. When she saw that Delaware's Race to the Top proposal highlighted EiE, she said, "Now is the time to get EiE off the ground!"