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"Young Engineers" Program Uses Museum Curriculum

July 17, 2016

A curriculum developed at the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) is inspiring students in the Big Apple. The New York City Department of Design and Construction (NYC DDC) chose Engineering Everywhere™, developed by the Museum's Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) project, to launch its innovative "Young Engineers" program for middle-schoolers.

"We wanted to expand opportunities for young people who are underrepresented in science and technology fields, particularly women and minorities, by getting them interested in engineering and architecture at a young age," says Lee Llambelis, DDC's Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Architecture and Math) Initiative. "These are the careers of the future, and middle school is where you can really have an impact on career choices."

The DDC program has been using the Engineering Everywhere units "Don't Runoff: Engineering an Urban Landscape" (photo) and "Here Comes the Sun: Engineering Insulated Homes" because they engage students in design challenges similar to the ones DDC engineers and architects encounter.

"Engineering Everywhere was intentionally designed to present youth with real-world design challenges that relate to their own life experiences," says Museum of Science vice president and EiE director Christine Cunningham. "That's what makes STEM exciting and engaging for middle schoolers."

To date the program has reached 235 students in afterschool programs at eight Title I middle schools. "These are children from low-income communities who might not have access to high-quality engineering enrichment programs," Llambelis says.

An analysis of data from pilot tests in 2015, comparing DDC students to students at the same school who were not enrolled in the afterschool activities, shows the program is highly effective, with the young engineers performing better in STEAM subjects than their peers.

Engineering Everywhere was developed with support from i2Camp which makes the lessons available to afterschool programs at no charge on the project website.

Photo credit: NYC DDC

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