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Cynthia Berger

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

Recent Posts

EiE Research Results | Thursday, August 31

Research Spotlight: Engineering Notebooks Make Learning More Engaging

This is just some of the data we’ve collected!

Engineering is Elementary is conducting a major research study to explore the question, “What makes an elementary engineering curriculum effective?” We’ve collected mountains of data from thousands of elementary students in hundreds of classrooms . . . and the information is helping us answer more than just this one question!

For example, we’re looking at how engineering notebooks can make learning more engaging. EiE researcher Jonathan Hertel presented some findings at the annual American Society for Engineering Education conference in New Orleans, and recently co-authored an article entitled "The Roles of Engineering Notebooks in Shaping Elementary Engineering Student Discourse and Practice" in the International Journal of Science Education.

EiE Teaching Tips | EiE Resources for Teachers | Tuesday, August 29

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

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.

Profiles | Thursday, August 17

Engineering a School Turnaround

The June 2015 online issue of Educational Leadership explores the theme “ Improving Schools from Within.” The magazine invited educators to share stories of schools that changed for the better—and how they did it. 

Emily Hardee, a North Carolina STEM coordinator, tells the story of a Raleigh elementary school that transformed itself from one of the lowest performing schools in the district into a STEM school that’s a model for the state. We’re gratified to know that the Engineering is Elementary curriculum played a part in the change.

Engineering Habits of Mind | Thursday, May 25

Beyond Memorization: Engineering Helps Kids See the Big Picture

The students in Jean Facchiano's fourth-grade class have spent the morning engineering their own models of permeable membranes, using ordinary kitchen supplies like sponges, coffee filters, and perforated aluminum foil. The goal is to design a system that lets water drip into a frog habitat, keeping the container slightly damp, not dry or flooded.

Each group of students has come up with their own unique system for controlling water flow into the habitat. Now, in the video below, the students present their results. It's not just a show-and-tell; it's a concise demonstration of elementary students starting to apply their systems-thinking skills.

EiE Teaching Tips | Tuesday, May 23

"Can I Just Teach Lesson 4?" The Power of Scaffolded STEM Learning

Elementary teachers are under tremendous time pressure, especially with the current emphasis on preparing for standardized tests. Working through the four lessons in an Engineering is Elementary unit takes about six to ten hours of class time. When I facilitate EiE workshops, teachers often ask me: “Do I HAVE to teach all four lessons? What if I just skip to Lesson 4?" . . . which is the engineering design challenge, where kids design, build, and test a technology, such as a solar oven or water filter.  

In our Teacher Educator Institutes, we ask participants to skip to Lesson 4 deliberately, as a learning experience. I recall one workshop where we started with Lesson 4 from our “Designing Submersibles” unit; the challenge is to make a model submersible from small plastic vials that contain sand, beads, or marbles.

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