Afterschool Curriculum Adds New Options

Two new units introduce middle schoolers to biomedical and materials engineering

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New EiE Engineering Everywhere units
With the addition of "Outbreak Alert" and "It's in the Bag," Engineering Everywhere now offers eight units.
Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Afterschool educators who want to offer STEM activities for middle schoolers in the coming school year have some fun new choices. Engineering is Elementary (EiE), the award-winning STEM curriculum project based at the Museum of Science, Boston, has released two new units for the Engineering Everywhere (EE) curriculum. This brings the total number of EE units available for afterschool and camp programs that serve youth in grades 6 through 8 to eight.

One of the new offerings is “Outbreak Alert: Engineering a Pandemic Response,” a biomedical engineering unit that engages youth in 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 that serves as a model cell; the anti-virals are little plastic cups you can pitch at the tube to see if they stick. In our pilot tests, the students were really creative about designing anti-virals that prevented the cups from sticking!"

The other new unit is called “It’s in the Bag: Engineering Bioinspired Gear.” This materials engineering unit explores bioinspiration (sustainable solutions to human challenges that draw on the patterns and strategies you find in nature) by engaging youth in designing a custom backpack or tote bag.

Like all EE units, the new offerings are introduced by documentary-style videos called “Engineering Everywhere Special Reports” that set the context for the engineering design challenge. The video for "It’s in the Bag" takes viewers to a zoo to 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 youthful and diverse—who can talk to students at their level. That helps students relate to the experts and start to see themselves as engineers," says  DiIeso. Preliminary research finds students who engage with EE units show an improved attitude toward engineering as a future career. 

Engineering is Elementary is a project of the National Center for Technological Literacy® at the Museum of Science, Boston.

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Engineering Everywhere
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