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Mass. School Committee Applauds Teens on Engineering Savvy

July 16, 2014

Two Waltham, Massachusetts, high school students and their teachers impressed a May 2014 school committee meeting with what they learned in their Engineering the Future® class, the Waltham (Mass.) News Tribune reported recently. The project-based course incorporates both math and science and fosters spatial learning with a focus on 21st century skills.

"I liked how it brought both subjects together," Johanna Trombley told the Waltham News Tribune. "I'm thinking about taking college classes and maybe even majoring in it."

Math teacher Marc Smith and science teacher Matt Burns adopted the idea from a professional development course they took at the Museum of Science, Boston. The Museum's K-12 engineering curricula have reached more than 6.1 million students. The high school Engineering the Future curriculum, created by the Museum, is published by IT'S ABOUT TIME®.

Student Cole Soave created a small boat, which acted like a steam engine powered by a candle, he said, showing the committee in a video. Drawn to the course because of its practicality, he also thought hands-on activities would be fun.

Smith said students show up for the popular course eager "to dive into the circuit boxes and get to work." Adding that applied learning puts difficult concepts from textbooks into students' hands, Smith said, "All ideas are seen as valid and the students get to work together and do what they want. It's not just fill in the box and move on to the next question."

Trombley admitted working in groups could be difficult but liked how it allowed her to see different points of view. Fifty students have already signed up for next semester's two classes -- 12 more than this semester.

The Engineering the Future textbook is written by practicing engineers whose stories introduce concepts that relate to students' design projects. They learn to make scale drawings, build and test prototypes, and combine components into systems, while developing critical thinking and collaboration skills.

The School Committee applauded the students' efforts.

Related Links

The Museum of Science, Boston

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