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New Partnership Expands STEM Education in Alabama

April 07, 2013

The University of Alabama's Institute for Science Education (ISE) is becoming the Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) program's newest "endorsed partner." A cutting-edge elementary curriculum, created by the Museum of Science's National Center for Technological Literacy®, EiE also offers professional development (PD) workshops to elementary teachers and teacher educators. Until recently, most workshops were offered at the Boston Museum. But with a grant from Raytheon, the Museum is creating a nationwide network of EiE PD providers who can train and support local teachers through partnerships in Arizona, Washington, DC, and Alabama.

A recent PD workshop in Alabama gave 33 participants the opportunity to try EiE engineering design challenges such as building a water filter to solve a pollution problem and designing an alarm that would sound when a water trough is empty.

"Everyone was so engaged in the water filtration unit," says EiE PD facilitator Shannon McManus. "Teachers told us EiE would mesh really well with their science curriculum."

Since many elementary teachers have limited engineering or science experience and feel uncomfortable teaching these subjects, EiE workshops are designed to build teacher confidence. McManus says, "We show teachers that engineering is not a mysterious occupation reserved for experts only. It's a process anyone can use to solve problems."

Besides extending EiE's ability to train teachers, the new EiE-ISE partnership supports the goals of the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI), a state education department program that aims to improve K-12 math/science teaching by helping educators find high-quality professional development in teaching hands-on science.

"Engineering is Elementary correlates perfectly with AMSTI," says Brenda Terry, executive director of the Alabama Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering Coalition for Education. The workshop will have a multiplier effect as participants lead EiE PD workshops for other teachers in their schools or districts.

For more information about EiE's PD opportunities and partnering, visit http://www.eie.org/content/partners or contact eiepartners@mos.org.

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The Museum of Science, Boston

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