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Engineering is Elementary Goes to New York City

October 20, 2012

To help elementary school teachers integrate engineering concepts into New York City's curriculum, instruction and assessment, the Harlem Schools Partnership (HSP) for STEM Education at Columbia University's Teachers College turned to the Museum of Science's Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®).

"We chose EiE because it is a fantastic curriculum that focuses on teaching engineering concepts to elementary grade students," says Dr. Janell N. Catlin, HSP project director and adjunct assistant professor of science education. "Our challenge in science curriculum has been putting the 'E' in STEM in grades K-5. EiE has helped us to achieve that goal."

The 20-unit EiE curriculum, a project of the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy®, integrates engineering and technology with science, language arts, social studies, and math via storybooks and hands-on design activities. 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 student and teacher learning. Each unit includes an illustrated storybook with a child from a different country and culture who uses the engineering design process to solve a problem. EiE has reached 44,000 teachers and 3.8 million students in the United States.

At an HSP institute in July led by EiE's Erin Fitzgerald, 20 educators explored three EiE kits -- The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators, Sounds Like Fun: Seeing Animal Sounds, and A Stick in the Mud: Evaluating a Landscape. Teachers experienced firsthand the engineering design process, explored multicultural and real-world applications, experimented with hands-on activities, linked science and mathematics concepts to engineering, and solved engineering design challenges. They also increased their content knowledge and pedagogical repertoire in engineering, formed a cohort of science leaders in each HSP school, and developed a community of science leaders in all HSP schools. This fall, the HSP team of faculty and graduate students will provide in-classroom support for institute participants to introduce EiE this year.

Funded by support from the General Electric Foundation, the Teachers College's HSP efforts are led by Dr. Nancy Streim, principal investigator, and associate vice president for school and community partnerships, and Dr. Janell N. Catlin. For more information, contact Dr. Catlin: jcatlin@tc.edu.

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The Museum of Science, Boston

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