Museum of Science, Boston’s Engineering Program, EiE, Releases New NASA-Funded Curriculum Created to Engage Students by Designing Tools for Space Travel

Students can learn the Engineering Design Process through a new unit—for out of school time and in-class use—created as part of the PLANETS Grant from NASA in collaboration with the US Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center and Northern Arizona Uni

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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

BOSTON, MA - August 14, 2019 - Funded by a grant from NASA, the EiE program at Boston’s Museum of Science has partnered with the US Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center and Northern Arizona University to create a new hands-on curriculum unit that engages students in engineering by challenging them to design gloves for astronauts. The new unit joins an impressive lineup of afterschool and summer curricula available through EiE, the developers of the nation’s leading PreK–8 engineering curricula. Built initially for out-of-school time, the unit can be used during regular class time as well.

The new unit, In Good Hands: Engineering Space Gloves, takes students on a visit to Antarctica to learn about space hazards and help engineer part of a space suit for a new fictional NASA mission. Designed for grades 3–5, this unit encourages children to work as materials engineers and consider how the trade-offs of various materials used to make space gloves can help astronauts complete one of three missions to either an asteroid, Earth’s Moon, or Mars. Learners will be asked to consider hazards of cold, pressure, and the need for dexterity in space as they use an engineering design process to create space gloves. The seven hands-on adventures come complete with teacher resources such as discussion prompts and extension ideas to help teachers connect the learning across different content areas. Student resources are available in both Spanish and English.

The development of the new unit was funded by a NASA cooperative agreement for PLANETS (Planetary Learning that Advances the Nexus of Engineering, Technology, and Science), which is an interdisciplinary and cross-institutional partnership that integrates planetary science, education, technology, and engineering. The purpose of PLANETS is to increase public awareness and use of NASA resources by highlighting the relationship between science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in the context of planetary science in out-of-school time settings.

“We hope that the new unit created by the collaboration between EiE, Northern Arizona University’s Center for Science Teaching and Learning, and the US Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center will introduce students to the mystery and amazement of space exploration by giving them a practical, hands-on way to interact with the challenges that NASA thinks about every day,” said Joëlle Clark, PLANETS Principal Investigator. “The PLANETS project is designed to inspire learners by giving them access to quality STEM projects and to NASA’s many fascinating assets where they live, learn, and play.”

EiE has two flexible curricula dedicated to engineering in grades 3–8: Engineering Adventures and Engineering Everywhere. In both of these curricula, kids learn and practice 21st century skills  as they collaborate, communicate, solve problems, and share their solutions with their peers while embarking on the engineering design process:

  • Engineering Adventures: Engineering Adventures engages learners in grades 3–5 in fun, creative problem solving. Eleven hands-on units are low-cost, flexible, and center on meaningful, open-ended problems with a global context.
  • Engineering Everywhere: Engineering Everywhere is an engineering curriculum for learners in grades 6–8. The twelve engineering challenges empower learners to tackle real-world engineering problems using the Engineering Design Process along with creativity and collaboration.

EiE’s flexible curricula help young students develop engineering skills and foster a love of STEM learning—and are designed so that students and educators don’t need any particular background knowledge in science or engineering to use the curricula. Many units link to engineering or science standards, including ITEEA Standards for Technological Literacy, National Science Education Standards, and the Next Generation Science Standards.

The units are built to teach the engineering design process in a way that guides children through problem solving as they work through open-ended problems creatively. Students find solutions to design challenges while learning that they have potential for designing and improving technologies, that failure is just one step in learning, and that anyone can be an engineer.

“We want students to have access to quality engineering curricula in and out of school,” said Annette Sawyer, vice president of education and enrichment programs at the Museum of Science, Boston.“That means making sure teachers have the support they need to become facilitators of student-centered learning. Our teacher guides are comprehensive so that an educator, who may not have a science or engineering background, can feel confident facilitating the engineering units.”

In Good Hands: Engineering Space Gloves is available for purchase and free download now. There are two additional Engineering Adventures units funded by NASA and two Engineering Everywhere units funded by the PLANETS project. All NASA-sponsored afterschool units are available free of charge for educators. Visit eie.org for more information.

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About EiE:
Launched in 2003, EiE is an award-winning PreK-8 engineering program from the Museum of Science, Boston, one of the world's largest science centers and New England's most attended cultural institution. EiE reaches 1.3 million students each year, and has been used in all 50 states and in over 20 countries. Its research-based, hands-on engineering curricula were designed to create a generation of problem solvers. EiE introduces learners to the engineering design process to build a strong foundation of critical thinking and inspire them to solve real-world challenges. With EiE, educators and students learn to apply an engineering mindset across disciplines—in the classroom and in out-of-school settings. A commitment to equity and access is a foundational idea in EiE’s curriculum design, professional development, and research.

EiE engages all learners and empowers students and educators to discover their inner engineer. Visit: https://www.eie.org/.

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