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Children are born engineers—they are fascinated with building, with taking things apart, and with how things work. To help prepare children for life in the 21st century, K-12 engineering should capitalize upon these attributes and develop children’s problem-solving, inquiry, and innovation. This seminar will explore one research-based project, Engineering is Elementary, developed to engage all elementary children (and their teachers) to principles of engineering and technology. It will review children’s conceptions of engineering and technology, highlight inclusive design principles that grounded the project, and present research data about the results of the curriculum on children’s learning, interest, and engagement.
Dr. Christine Cunningham is a Vice President at the Museum of Science, Boston where she oversees curricular materials development, teacher professional development, and research and evaluation efforts related to K-16 engineering and science learning and teaching. Her projects focus on making engineering and science more relevant, understandable, and accessible to everyone, especially marginalized populations such as women, underrepresented minorities, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, and people with disabilities. She is particularly interested in the ways that the teaching and learning of engineering and science can change to include and benefit from a more diverse population. Dr. Cunningham’s projects span the elementary to college educational continuum. Principal among these is Engineering is Elementary (EiE), a program she founded in 2003. EiE has created a research-driven, standards-based, and classroom-tested curriculum that integrates engineering and technology concepts and skills with elementary science topics. EiE also helps elementary educators enhance their understanding of engineering concepts and pedagogy through professional development workshops and resources. A related research and assessment effort is studying how children and their educators engage with, learn, and teach engineering concepts and skills. To date, over 2.7 million children and 32,700 educators have used EiE. As the Director of EiE, Christine is responsible for the vision, strategy, and funding for the project. Christine attended Yale College, where she received her Bachelors and Masters in biology and Cornell University, whether she received a PhD in Science Education.