Museum of Science and AIR Worldwide Bring Engineering to Boston Elementary Schools


Chris San Antonio-Tunis, Museum of Science
Boston teachers design a plant package at the AIR-supported workshop.
Monday, February 22, 2016

In honor of National Engineers Week (February 21-27), the Museum of Science, Boston and AIR Worldwide (AIR), a Boston-based risk-modeling firm, are collaborating with Boston Public Schools (BPS) to bring engineering to six elementary schools this spring. A $15,000 grant from AIR will enable educators to introduce 300 students to Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®), the award-winning curriculum created at the Museum’s National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®).

While Commonwealth of Massachusetts academic standards now make engineering part of the school day as early as first grade, engineering is still usually reserved for college.

But, says Museum president and director Ioannis Miaoulis, "we believe that young children love making things. Introducing them to engineering design skills will spark them to use their math and science to solve practical problems. We also believe that enthusiastic prepared teachers are key to inspiring students and we are very grateful for AIR's support."

STEM Professional Development is Essential

“Many elementary teachers don’t feel well prepared to teach engineering and science, so high-quality professional development is a critical need,” says EiE director and Museum vice president Christine Cunningham. “By helping elementary teachers build their skills and confidence in teaching engineering, AIR Worldwide is helping to make a difference for Massachusetts students for years to come.”

As part of the AIR award, a total of 18 BPS educators from six elementary schools participated in an EiE professional development workshop in January: Adams Elementary, Thomas Edison K – 8 School, Rev. Dr. Michael E. Haynes Early Education Center, West Zone Early Learning Center, John F. Kennedy Elementary, and Curley K – 8 School.

The educators explored effective strategies for teaching the curriculum and learned to integrate engineering into their classrooms by trying one of EiE's activities themselves--designing and constructing a packaging system to protect a living plant in transit. They also received EiE curriculum materials--complete lesson plans and all the supplies needed to implement the hands-on, inquiry-based, age-appropriate engineering activities.

“We are excited to pilot the Engineering is Elementary curriculum in our schools and appreciate the support from AIR Worldwide and all of our community partners,” said Pamela Pelletier, director of K-12 science and technology/engineering for BPS. “Collaborations with institutions like the Museum of Science and businesses like AIR are helpful to our expansion of STEM learning opportunities for students.”

Engineers to Volunteer during E-Week

AIR engineer at Museum of Science, BostonAs part of the initiative, AIR engineers are volunteering at the Museum from Feb 15 – 27, demonstrating their commitment to engineering education as they participate in special activities in honor of Engineers Week. These include hands-on design challenges such as testing sailboats (shown at right) and building arcade claws to pick up toys from a tank.

“We’re pleased to collaborate with the Museum on an initiative that brings high-quality professional development to teachers and engaging, hands-on learning to students right here in Boston,” says Bill Churney, president of AIR Worldwide. “Helping young children get excited about STEM learning and STEM careers starting at an early age is a critical national need and one that our company, with backing from our parent company Verisk Analytics, is committed to supporting.”

Developed with support from the National Science Foundation, EiE is the nation’s most widely used elementary engineering curriculum, reaching nearly 10 million students to date. The curriculum consists of 20 units that integrate science topics with different engineering fields through inquiry-based learning. The units are introduced by storybooks about children from different cultures and backgrounds around the world who are trying to solve engineering problems; students then solve a similar problem using a five-step engineering design process.

For more information:

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. Having reached an estimated 10.1 million students and 112,700 teachers, its National Center for Technological Literacy® also received the National Science Board's Public Service Award in May 2015. One of the world's largest science centers and Boston's most attended cultural institution, the Museum of Science introduces about 1.4 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 Science Behind Pixar, created in collaboration with Pixar Animation Studios, has begun a 10-year national tour.  The Museum has also led a 10-year, $41 million National Science Foundation-funded Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network of science museums. Visit:

About AIR Worldwide

AIR Worldwide (AIR) provides catastrophe risk modeling solutions that make individuals, businesses, and society more resilient. AIR founded the catastrophe modeling industry in 1987, and today models the risk from natural catastrophes and terrorism globally. Insurance, reinsurance, financial, corporate, and government clients rely on AIR’s advanced science, software, and consulting services for catastrophe risk management, insurance-linked securities, site-specific engineering analyses, and agricultural risk management. AIR Worldwide, a Verisk Analytics (Nasdaq:VRSK) business, is headquartered in Boston with additional offices in North America, Europe, and Asia. For more information, please visit


The EIE Curriculum
Scholarships and Awards