Cynthia Berger

Cynthia Berger is manager for communications at Engineering is Elementary, a project of the Museum of Science, Boston

Recent Posts

A Lesson Comes to Life as Students Recreate EiE Storybook Scenario

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 11/15/16 11:00 AM

storybook cover collage-resized.jpgEiE storybook characters are diverse by design. There are 20 different protagonists, all from different backgrounds, races, family situations, and abilities, and it’s for one good reason: students feel inspired when they read stories about someone they can identify with.

This intentional diversity was a plus for Claudine Conover, a PreK-5 science teacher at a small school in the Bronx, as she searched for STEM lessons that would resonate with her students.

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Topics: Implementing EiE

Top 7 Tips for Getting a STEM Grant

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 11/3/16 11:00 AM

Make your dream a reality

Maybe you’ve had this frustrating experience: You’ve identified a curriculum that you’re excited about. You feel confident it will help your school meet STEM education goals AND it will be engaging for kids. But budgets are tight and there’s no funding to make it happen. This is
not the end of the story! Consider applying for
a grant.

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Topics: Scholarships and Awards

For Chicago’s Diverse-Needs Students, EiE Works

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 10/25/16 11:00 AM

Marys Classroom-resized.jpgBack in the 1920s, the Christopher School was built to serve students with disabilities, including many affected by polio. Today, this Chicago public school serves an unusually diverse student population. “Our mission statement is “Teach ALL, Reach All, Include All,” says Mary Meade, the school’s middle-school science coordinator. “Regular education students learn alongside students with severe and profound physical and cognitive disabilities.” 

Like every teacher, Mary needs lessons that help every student learn. She also looks for lessons that relate to the real world. That’s how she discovered Engineering Everywhere (EE), EiE’s out-of-school-time curriculum for ages 10–12.

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Topics: Out-of-School time

Learning from Failure

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 10/20/16 11:00 AM

Failure is Not an Option is the title of Gene Kranz’s autobiography. The phrase expresses how Kranz, a NASA flight director, and his team approached problems of all kinds—most notably, how to get the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely after a disastrous explosion in the service module. When I was fresh out of school and working my first job, I had a coffee cup with this slogan. The idea is common in American culture: in the workplace, in relationships, in schools. Both students AND teachers can learn from failure!

For the Apollo mission, a no-failure mindset was exactly what the team needed to find a solution, and fast. But framing success as the only option is a problem in schools, especially in the elementary classroom—and especially if classroom instruction is focused on getting the one right answer.

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Topics: Engineering Habits of Mind

EiE Releases Guide to Learning Trajectories for K-8 Engineering

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 10/18/16 11:00 AM

table-1.jpgThe idea of integrating engineering with traditional K-12 subjects is still pretty new. If you’re a teacher looking online for age-appropriate engineering lessons, you may find what’s on offer is too challenging­—or too simplistic—for your students.  And if you’re a curriculum developer, you won’t find many resources to show what kinds of engineering kids are capable of at different ages. That’s why EiE’s research team has developed a concise set of Engineering Learning Trajectories for ages 3–12.

Understanding How Kids Learn

The new learning trajectories draw on EiE’s extensive research on “how children learn engineering.” “Kids who are twelve have different skills and abilities than kids who are three,” says EiE director Christine Cunningham. “That may seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook.”

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Topics: EiE Research Results

Meet Our Illustrator: Ross Wiley Brings Engineering Stories to Life

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 10/11/16 11:00 AM

Ross at EiE
Ross reviews his work, displayed at the EiE offices.

This fall EiE welcomed a special visitor to our Boston offices: illustrator Ross Wiley. If you’ve been entertained by the offbeat adventures of India and Jacob, the traveling teens who host Engineering Adventures, or fascinated by the exploding corncob on the cover of Plants to Plastics, you have Ross to thank! He created all the illustrations for our two out-of-school-time curricula, along with the cover art and illustrations for eight EiE storybooks and teacher guides.

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Topics: Profiles

Math Lessons Go Better With Engineering

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 10/4/16 1:00 PM

The Common Core State Standards for math are pushing elementary educators to re-think how to teach math. How do you go beyond skills like adding and subtracting or the times tables to help kids develop a deep understanding of math concepts? Engineering activities are an ideal framework for meeting this challenge. 

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Topics: Engineering Habits of Mind

EiE Teacher Tip: Our How-To Videos Make Lesson Prep a Breeze!

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 9/29/16 11:00 AM

How-To Videos

A picture is worth a thousand words. A video is worth even more, when it saves you time and energy! That’s why Engineering is Elementary offers “How-To Videos”—short segments you can stream from our website. Each video walks you through some lesson prep for the unit you’ll be teaching.

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Topics: EiE Resources for Teachers, EiE Teaching Tips

New from EiE Online PD: Effective Questioning Strategies for the Engineering Classroom

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 9/22/16 11:00 AM

So you’re teaching engineering to your elementary students. And today they’re designing a technology—perhaps a solar oven or a water filter. One group comes up with an unusually
A teacher examines a windmill
What can you say when a windmill doesn’t work?
creative design . . . but it doesn’t quite work as expected. Now what?

For maximum learning impact, you want to be ready with prompts that help your students do their own problem solving. In other words, you need effective questioning strategies! You can learn more about these strategies when you attend a new interactive online learning session from Engineering is Elementary, scheduled for October 13, 2016.

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Topics: Professional Development

When You’ve Got a Good Thing, Stick With It: 10 Years of EiE

Posted by Cynthia Berger on 9/20/16 11:00 AM

Hartselle City Schools Logo
Kids have been engineering hand pollinators at Barkley Bridge since 2007!

Last year, the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) selected the Engineering is Elementary curriculum as part an ambitious program to improve STEM education statewide. So now many Alabama elementary teachers are getting their first exposure to classroom engineering. But for Wendy Goss and John Mark at Barkley Bridge Elementary in Hartselle, AL, engineering is nothing new: They’ve been teaching EiE for almost 10 years. (We don’t know for sure, but we think this may be a record!)

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Topics: Profiles