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National Science Foundation Awards Museum of Science $3M for Engineering is Elementary Research

October 23, 2012

The Museum of Science, Boston has received funding from the National Science Foundation for the Exploring the Efficacy of Engineering is Elementary (E4) project. It will investigate whether and how components of the Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) curriculum affect students' and teachers' learning and teaching of engineering and science, and build their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. EiE is a project of the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®).

Over four years, the E4 project will study the implementation and effects of four different EiE units on 300 third through fifth grade classrooms in Maryland, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, as compared to a control curriculum. Of special interest is EiE's impact on underperforming and underrepresented children. The recruitment and selection of participating schools and districts will ensure that the study represents this population well.

The Museum hopes to answer several research questions, including:

--What effect does the EiE curriculum have (when implemented under ideal conditions) on children's learning of engineering and science content and processes compared to lessons that address similar learning objectives but do not include EiE's hypothesized critical components?

--To what extent does EiE increase children's interest in and attitudes towards STEM careers?

--What are the major challenges of teaching EiE as it is designed? How do educators adapt EiE when teaching it, and why?

--How do student demographic differences affect outcomes of teaching EiE?

--How do different classroom contexts result in differences in teaching the curriculum?

Data will be collected via teacher and student surveys, student interviews, classroom observations, and student journals. Based upon the findings, the Museum will revise and improve its teacher and student materials.

"This grant will help us to understand the impacts of EiE on students and, in a broader sense, provide valuable knowledge which can help developers design better engineering and technology curricula," says Christine Cunningham, Museum vice president of research and EiE founder and director. For more information on the EiE program, visit www.mos.org/eie or email EiE@mos.org.

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The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500   information@mos.org