Delaware Uses NCTL Curriculum to Meet New Science Standards' Goals
October 18, 2013
In September Delaware adopted the Next Generation Science Standards -- guidelines that for the first time treat engineering as a core discipline for students in grades K-12. Delaware is using Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®), a curriculum developed at the Museum of Science, Boston through the National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), to meet the new standards' goals.
The hands-on, research-based curriculum, developed with support from the National Science Foundation and others, is one of the nation's leading engineering curricula for young children. Many districts and schools across the country have used EiE, but Delaware was the first state in the nation to adopt EiE statewide in August 2011.
Since then, more than 900 teachers have been trained to introduce the curriculum to about 22,500 students, according to Tonyea Mead, who leads science professional development (PD) in the state. "We're also building a cadre of trainers to deliver EiE PD to even more teachers," she notes.
All of Delaware's 19 school districts (along with 24 charter schools) are now using five EiE units in at least some of their schools -- a different unit for each grade. Second graders, for example, learn with EiE's Designing Bridges unit. "We had been using a science unit on balancing and weighing," Mead says, "but it didn't fulfill our science standards -- especially with respect to the concept of 'forces.' And the activities were like cookbook recipes. EiE, on the other hand, emphasizes problem-solving, collaboration, and thinking. It's taking us to the next stage."
The new science standards emphasize that children should learn science concepts in context and understand how they relate to real-world events. For the Bridges unit, Mead made this connection by collaborating with a transportation engineer who led construction of a bridge across Delaware Bay's Indian River Inlet. The project faced siting and construction challenges remarkably similar to those which students addressed in EiE's engineering design challenge.
EiE is also part of Delaware's summer school program. "The EiE bioengineering unit about designing knee braces is really popular," Mead says. She projects that by 2015 EiE will be in every elementary school in the state, reaching about 6,000 teachers and 49,400 students.