Last Updated: 03/01/2013*
Engineering is Elementary® launches Alabama teacher training hub thanks to grant from Raytheon
Everyone can engineer. That’s what Alabama educators spent three days learning at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Thirty-three science teachers, curriculum developers and administrators from across Alabama designed everything from water filters to penguin enclosures during an Engineering is Elementary® (EiE) Teacher Educator Institute, the first in a series of workshops at the university’s new EiE teacher training hub sponsored by Raytheon.
Alabama educators work together to solve the engineering problems in Engineering is Elementary's “Water, Water Everywhere” unit during the recent Teacher Educator Institute.A research-based, standards-driven and classroom-tested curriculum, EiE integrates engineering and technology concepts and skills with elementary school science topics.
“Children are born engineers,” said Sharlene Yang, EiE partnership director. “They are fascinated with building, with taking things apart, and with how things work. We need to build on that innate curiosity in those critical early years.”
Designed by the Museum of Science in Boston, Engineering is Elementary aims to broaden basic science lessons in elementary school to include engineering concepts.
“The EiE program is the perfect framework for the development of a 21st century learner,” Autumn Bray, a teacher at Blossomwood Elementary in Huntsville, said during the Feb. 26-28 workshop. “The engineering process allows children to be creative while solving problems, applying knowledge and engaging in authentic learning challenges.”
The Museum of Science developed the EiE curriculum in 2003 to prepare teachers for teaching science and engineering. Since then it has reached more than 3.9 million students and 44,000 teachers in all 50 states.
Teachers explore what it takes to make the connection in “Designing Alarm Circuits,” part of the electricity and electrical engineering unit at the professional development workshop held at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.A $1 million grant from Raytheon is helping to expand the program by establishing professional development hubs in Phoenix., Washington and Huntsville. An additional $1 million grant will fund scholarships for teachers to participate in “Everyone Engineers” workshops.
The program “helps build teachers’ confidence and allows teachers to see that engineering is a process you go through to solve problems,” said Beth Adams, a third-grade teacher at Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur, Ala. “We are building essential life skills for our students.”
The EiE curriculum includes 20 units that combine science topics with a specific field of engineering. It uses storybooks to introduce students to children from different cultures and backgrounds who are trying to solve engineering problems. Students conduct their own experiments to solve the same problem using a five-step engineering design process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Improve.
“Engineering is Elementary correlates perfectly with Alabama’s highly successful math, science and technology initiative program or works just as effectively in any elementary mathematics and science classroom,” said, Brenda Terry, executive director of the Alabama Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering Coalition for Education.
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