Getting Started with EiE: Choosing a Unit

Posted by Hannah E. on 6/13/17 11:00 AM

EIE 2015 JR_1105 resized.jpgBringing engineering to your classroom can seem like a daunting task. Visions of a craft supply mountain and a textbook-sized teacher guide can make even the most seasoned teacher hesitate. Here at EiE, we know the importance of introducing engineering to students, but we don’t want teachers to see classroom engineering as a difficult or insurmountable burden. To ease the potentially stressful task of introducing a new subject, the Engineering is Elementary team has worked hard to create resources, guides, and charts that provide educators with everything they’ll need to choose an appropriate EiE unit and easily implement classroom engineering.

Standardize the Process

Because each EiE unit is designed to integrate with a science topic, we recommend starting with the science field or topic you teach. Do you already teach air and weather? Are you a teaching physical science next fall? This chart can help you connect a science topic you already teach with one of our 20 in-school engineering curriculum units. We’ve also published a comprehensive alignment chart that maps the most popular science curricula—FOSS, GEMs, STC and more—to EiE units to help aid your decision making process.

While our units aren’t designed to explicitly teach science, if you’re looking to provide even more science context for your engineering design challenge, our knowledgeable curriculum writers have also identified additional science resources for all 20 units. You can view an example of our science resources for The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators and access the rest of our content area connections on our website.

We designed each of our 20 in-school units with careful attention to state and national academic standards. The EiE team keeps their eye on the latest education news across the country and we’re continually revising our alignment guides as states adopt new standards. Take a look at your state’s standards to see which unit maps best to the standards you’re already teaching! If your state has adopted the Next Generation Science Standards you can see how our curriculum supports NGSS here. Want more information about the guides? Check out this FAQ post on state and national standards or this Common Core-specific information

Which Engineering Field?

We often get asked, “Which unit is the correct one for my grade?” Our units weren’t designed with a specific grade level in mind—all 20 EiE units can be taught in any elementary grade (we’ve even had kindergarten and middle school teachers find success with EiE!). But, we have designated 5 units as “basic” because they correspond with science topics typically taught in grades 1 and 2:

Unit Title

Associated Science Topic

The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators

Insects & bugs

To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges

Balance & forces

A Work in Process: Improving a Play Dough Process

Solids & liquids

A Sticky Situation: Designing Walls

Earth materials

Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills

Air & weather

The other 15 “advanced” EiE units are more appropriate for older grades (Grades 3-5). However, we provide “advanced” and “basic” modifications, such as differentiated worksheets and teaching tips, for each unit. So no matter which unit you’d like to teach, you can customize the experience to best fit the capabilities of your students.

There’s a Video for That

One of our greatest resources for teachers who are trying to implement engineering in their classroom is our extensive video library. For a quick introduction to EiE, our Getting Started video series can help you choose a unit, navigate our teacher guides and the structure of our lessons, and organize all of the materials you’ll need to complete a unit. If you want to see what EiE looks like when it’s taught in a real classroom, you should absolutely check out our classroom videos—we have footage of all four lessons from each EiE unit paired with useful reflection questions that can help deepen your viewing experience. 

We’re here to help!

Still want assistance navigating our resources and picking out a unit? Our smart and capable customer service team is happy to help you out! Reach them by phone from 9 AM – 5 PM ET at (617) 589-0230 or (they typically respond faster than you can say “Engineering Design Process”). Don’t forget to download a preview of the unit that caught your eye, we have free previews of all 20 units!

Preview a Unit

Have you already taught an EiE unit? After you share this post with a friend who hasn’t started teaching engineering in their classroom, we’d love to hear from you! Share the highlights of your engineering experience with us in the comments.

Topics: Implementing EiE