EiE Wins 7th Annual ISDDE Prize

International award recognizes excellence and innovation in curriculum design


Dr. Christine Cunningham, director of Engineering is Elementary (EiE) accepts the 2014 ISDDE Prize.
Monday, October 13, 2014

Cambridge, England (October 2, 2014) — The International Society for Design and Development in Education has awarded the 2014 ISDDE Prize (also called the “Eddy”) to Dr. Christine Cunningham, a vice president at the Museum of Science, Boston and the team of curriculum developers who worked with her to create the Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) curriculum. The prize, which is given for “for excellence in design for education in science or mathematics” and includes a $10,000 award, was presented to Dr. Cunningham on October 1st at the 2014 ISDDE conference in Cambridge, England.

“Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) has moved the field of educational design forward by providing proof of concept that even young children in ordinary classrooms can learn to love engineering,” says Elizabeth Stage, director of the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley and an ISDDE fellow. The curriculum, developed at the Museum of Science's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), has already reached more than 6 million children and 71,000 teachers across the United States and serves as a model for curriculum projects around the world.

ISDDE is an international organization that creates a professional community of designers and developers working in the field of education. The NCTL was founded by Museum president and director Ioannis Miaoulis to integrate engineering into museums and schools nationwide through advocacy, educational products, and educator professional development.

“The ISDDE Prize recognizes . . . pioneers, the ones who are not afraid to blaze new trails that no one else has taken,” says David Heil, founding president of the Foundation for Family Science and Engineering. “Christine and her colleague, Museum of Science president and director Yannis Miaoulis, have been way ahead of the crowd in their thinking about elementary engineering.” 

The design elements that Dr. Cunningham and the EiE team developed and incorporated into EiE include short, flexible curriculum modules that integrate engineering with the science topics schools routinely teach--helping teachers integrate engineering into an already crowded school day. After elementary teachers said they found the idea of teaching engineering “terrifying,” the EiE team made the curriculum easy to implement with carefully structured lessons, and created a library of short videos so teachers could see what these lessons look like in real classrooms. Finally, to engage students from populations underrepresented in engineering careers, the team placed each design challenge in an authentic setting that would draw on students’ real-world experiences (for example, designing a bridge to reach an island play fort or a wall to keep hungry bunnies out of a garden)--using storybooks that support school goals for literacy.

“EiE is widely recognized as an exemplary STEM curriculum by organizations including the National Science Teachers Association and the National Academy of Engineering,” says Michael Hacker, Co-Director, Center for STEM Education, Hofstra University. “And notably, it anticipated by a decade the goals and expectations of the new Next Generation Science Standards. Developed with corporate support and a grant from the National Science Foundation, EiE is supported by research to suggest students who experience it develop a more accurate understanding of what “engineering means,” show increased interest in engineering careers, and have deeper understanding of engineering and science principles; research also shows the curriculum is engaging for all children, including those from underrepresented populations.

“Over the past eight years, I’ve helped teachers in my state and around the country learn to use EiE,” says Elizabeth Parry, coordinator of K-16 STEM partnership development at North Carolina State University’s College of Engineering. “So I’ve seen first‐hand how effective it is‐‐and the difference it can make in students’ and teachers’ lives. It levels the playing field for students of all backgrounds.”

“The whole EiE team is deeply honoured to receive this recognition from ISDDE,” says Dr. Cunningham. “One of our key aims with EiE was to promote educational equity and help close the ‘achievement gap,’ so it’s particularly gratifying to see new research from other institutions that suggests EiE moves both teachers and students to re-define what it means to be “smart,” recognizing not just students who get good grades, but also students who work collaboratively, contribute innovative ideas, and make creative improvements in designs.” The EiE team will use the award to support educators with EiE professional development.

About the International Society for Design and Development in Education

ISDDE was founded to bring together outstanding designers and developers to collectively define and achieve excellence in educational products and materials, particularly for science, math, and technology; and to create a professional community that shares knowledge, research, approaches, and critiques. ISDDE advances these goals through annual conferences, an e-journal, Educational Designer, and “The Eddies,” which recognize and give exposure to outstanding work in the field. For more information about ISDDE and its awards, visit www.isdde.org

About the Museum of Science, Boston

The Museum of Science, Boston is the nation's first science museum with a comprehensive strategy and infrastructure to foster technological literacy in science museums and schools across the United States. NCTL curricula have reached an estimated 6.2 million students and 77,700 teachers. One of the world's largest science centers and New England's most attended cultural institution, the Museum of Science introduces about 1.5 million visitors a year to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) via dynamic programs and hundreds of interactive exhibits. Founded in 1830, the Museum was first to embrace all the sciences under one roof. Highlights include the Hall of Human Life, Thomson Theater of Electricity, Charles Hayden Planetarium, Mugar Omni Theater, Gordon Current Science & Technology Center, 4-D Theater, and Butterfly Garden. The Museum also leads a 10-year, $41 million National Science Foundation-funded Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network of science museums. Visit: http://www.mos.org.

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