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New Out-of-School Engineering Adventures Are Fun and Free

April 08, 2013

Children learn in different ways and places. That's why the Museum of Science, Boston created Engineering Adventures (EA), a new curriculum for out-of-school-time (OST) settings. Engineering Adventures is based on the Museum's nationally recognized Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) curriculum for children in grades 1 - 5. The Museum released its first two EA units in late 2012 and two more this spring.

"In recent years, organizations such as the National AfterSchool Association, the Afterschool Alliance, and the Coalition for Science After School have publicly expressed a need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) activities in OST programming," says EiE director of curriculum development Melissa Higgins. "High-quality engineering activities have been particularly lacking -- a gap that Engineering Adventures aims to fill."

The lessons are framed as adventures, with globe-trotting, engineering-savvy cartoon characters, Jacob and India, as virtual guides (see illustration, above right). Like Engineering is Elementary, EA presents kids with real-world problems and challenges them to engineer solutions. In one new unit, To the Rescue, kids create aid packages that can survive an aircraft drop. In the other, Shake Things Up, kids design earthquake-resistant buildings.

Developed with support from Bechtel Corporation and NASA for children in grades 3 - 5, EA materials are available to educators as free downloads at: http://www.eie.org/content/engineering-adventures. The first EA unit, Bubble Bonanza, was downloaded nearly a thousand times in the first six months after its release.

In EiE assessment surveys of afterschool educators who used the unit, over 90% of respondents rated the quality of the materials as "high" and "easy to use." One said, "My students absolutely loved doing this unit. I set it up as an afterschool club and the day after the paperwork went home, all the spaces were filled!" The assessment also found that kids were more likely to have positive attitudes about a career in engineering after participating in EA activities. Both EiE and EA are programs of the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy®.

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The Museum of Science, Boston

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