Every Thursday on the EiE Blog, we share teacher tips and new resources for teaching K - 8 engineering.
If you're an afterschool educator who plans to do some engineering with your middle schoolers, your choices just got bigger and more fun than ever. Engineering is Elementary has released two new Engineering Everywhere (EE) curriculum units:
This brings to eight the total number of EE units available to out-of-school time programs as free downloads on our website.
Ripped from the Headlines: Outbreak Alert!
“Outbreak Alert: Engineering a Pandemic Response” is a biomedical engineering unit that engages youth in an engineering challenge that's highly timely, considering the recent Ebola outbreak that made headlines. The activity involves designing model anti-virals to stop a disease outbreak.
"It sounds serious, but it's also really fun," says curriculum developer Michele DiIeso. "The activities call for an inflatable snow tube studded with Velcro to serve as a model cell and little plastic cups, equally studded with Velcro to serve as model antivirals. The idea is to pitch the cups at the tube to see if they stick. In our pilot tests, the students were really creative about designing modifications to the anti-virals that prevent them from sticking!"
Engineering with Style: Bioinspired Gear
The other new unit, “It’s in the Bag: Engineering Bioinspired Gear,” is a materials engineering unit that explores bioinspiration, or sustainable solutions to human challenges that draw on the patterns and strategies you find in nature. For example, textile designers have been inspired by the color-changing ability of the chameleon to create fabrics that can change color.
One hands-on learning activity in Bioinspired Gear engages youth in designing a custom backpack or tote bag inspired by the different ways that animals stay warm or cool, keep dry, protect or camouflage themselves, and so on.
Get the Inside Scoop with "EE Special Report" Videos
Like all of the earlier EE units, the new offerings are introduced by short, documentary-style videos called “Engineering Everywhere Special Reports” that set the context for the engineering design challenge. An engaging young host takes you on an insider’s tour, to meet engineers who work in the field covered by the unit.
The video for "It’s in the Bag" takes viewers to a zoo, where you learn how animals stay dry and comfortable, then to a studio to meet a designer whose fashions are inspired by these animals. The "Outbreak Alert" video takes you inside one Boston hospital where doctors have put systems in place to deal with outbreaks, then another where biomedical researchers are working to stop the spread of dangerous viruses.
"Our EE videos feature people who are experts in their fields, but also represent diverse populations and can talk to students at their level,” says DiIeso. “That helps students relate to the experts and start to see themselves as engineers." Preliminary research on the EE curriculum finds youth who engage with the units show an improved attitude toward engineering as a future career.
We know that many afterschool programs face budget constraints. Thanks to the generosity of our funders, i2 Camp and The Gordon Foundation, we can make all eight of the EE units available to afterschool educators as free downloads from the project website.
If you prefer to get lesson plans in book format, printed Educator Guides are available from the EiE store, along with convenient Materials Kits.
Check out the new units today!