Starting engineering early sets young learners up for success in school and life. But before asking a preschooler to engage in an engineering activity, it’s important to have a reasonable expectation of what that looks like and what an age-appropriate challenge for a young child to tackle might be. To design Wee Engineer, our preschool/Pre-K engineering curriculum that will launch Fall 2018, we first broke down the practices (or habits of mind) that define engineering and asked ourselves a simple question, “What does it look like when a preschooler engineers?” After hours of observing preschoolers in various settings, reviewing literature on child development, talking with preschool educators, and testing our own preschool engineering activities, here’s what we learned about engineering practices for this young age group.
Online PD | Wednesday, May 16
EiE Professional Development is excited to host a free webinar entitled "Integration of STEM Subjects in Elementary Classrooms Webinar" on May 23rd 4:00 - 5:00 PM EDT that can help you improve your teaching practice. This webinar is suitable for elementary teachers of engineering and STEM specialists, as well as professional development providers and administrators who want to learn more about meaningful integration of STEM subjects and effective questioning strategies. You don’t need previous experience teaching the EiE curriculum to benefit from these engaging webinars. Learn more about the webinar below and register today!
Engineering Everywhere | OST Curricula | Afterschool/Summer Camp | Monday, May 14
In partnership with NASA, EiE has released a new afterschool/summer camp engineering unit for middle-school aged youth. Thanks to a Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology and Science (PLANETS) grant, EiE was able to collaborate with scientists from Northern Arizona University’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning (CSTL) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Astrogeology Science Center to create an engineering unit that will engage and inspire youth in afterschool programs.
Fifteen years ago teaching engineering to elementary students was considered impossible. Many people thought engineering concepts were too complex for elementary students to understand, but EiE’s Founding Director Christine Cunningham thought differently. She welcomed the challenge to develop age-appropriate engineering design challenges. Through this endeavor, she saw an opportunity to transform the way STEM subjects are taught overall. She formed a team here at the Museum of Science and dedicated countless hours to researching, testing, and designing engineering curricula. Now, she has published a book Engineering in Elementary STEM Education: Curriculum Design, Instruction, Learning and Assessment that builds upon the tremendous work of her team. Recently, I sat down with Christine to learn more about why she wrote this book and how she hopes it will help educators.
Out-of-School time | Friday, May 4
It may not surprise you to learn that there are a few Star Wars fans on the EiE staff. We wanted to celebrate Star Wars Day EiE style, so we started brainstorming the ways in which our units connect with the Star Wars universe. It goes beyond rockets and rovers: the Star Wars films feature levitating devices and high-tech helmets, too! Star Wars scholars have written books about the scientific virtues of Star Wars, and no one can deny how much of a catalyst it is for STEM enthusiasts’ imaginations. It has inspired NASA engineers to chase their dreams, robotic engineers to design R2-D2-style robot companions, and Australian scientists to design holograms! If your class loves Star Wars as much as we do, they’ll love these out-of-this-world connections.