Engineering is Elementary Expands to Campers Grades 5-8
January 22, 2013
The Museum of Science's Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) program has received a grant to extend its reach beyond classrooms to summer camps and from elementary to middle school children. The generous award from i2 CAMP, a New York-based educational enterprise, builds on EiE's inquiry-based, research-tested approach to engineering education, while creating hands-on fun for students in grades 5 through 8.
i2 CAMP founder Ethan Berman says the inspiration for introducing engineering into summer camps came from his children. "Many camps focus on sports," says Berman. "But two of my three kids prefer science to kicking balls around."
EiE recently added elementary after-school units called Engineering Adventures to its curriculum offerings. This new grant will enable the creation of 10 instructional units for middle school students -- tailored to the needs of summer camps and school-break and afterschool programs.
The i2 CAMP lessons will engage students in real-world engineering design challenges. For example, the unit "Here Comes the Sun" explores energy-efficient ways to keep homes cool. "Put a Lid on It" investigates the design decisions behind protective bike and football helmets.
"The depth, scale, and quality of EiE's work is impressive," says Berman. "I love that the team looked to the National Academy of Engineering's 'Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century' to frame the units. We're saying, 'This stuff is not just for rocket scientists. Middle school kids can explore these questions too.'"
"Middle school is when kids start to think about careers -- about what they like to do, and what they're good at," says Museum vice president of research and EiE director, Christine Cunningham. "i2 CAMP will help kids explore a field that's too often overlooked -- the 'E' in 'STEM.'"
The two-year award will support the creation and testing of all 10 units, which will be downloadable for free at www.mos.org/eie. The first four will be ready for camps this summer at Boston's Roxbury Latin School and New York City's Chapin School. Known for putting the "E" in elementary STEM education, EiE was created by the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy® and has reached 44,500 teachers and over 3.9 million students.