US Rep. Tonko Engineers a Better Future

Joins 3rd-graders "engineering" pollution solution


Rep. Paul Tonko visits Maury Elementary for EiE engineering activities.
Patti Curtis
Friday, February 27, 2015

Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY) celebrated Engineers Week today by joining 22 third graders and teacher Vanessa Ford at Maury Elementary School in Washington, DC to conduct water-testing activities from the Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) curriculum unit “A Slick Solution: Cleaning an Oil Spill.” EiE was developed by the Museum of Science, Boston at its National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®).

Rep. Tonko, who is an engineer himself, has already gotten an early start on Engineers Week; on February 10, he introduced H.R.823, a new bipartisan version of the Educating Tomorrow's Engineers Act (ETEA). (The co-sponsors are David B. McKinley (R-WV), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA), and Rodney Davis (R-IL).

The bill supports STEM education and highlights engineering, along with computer science. New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand plans to introduce a companion bill in the Senate in the coming weeks.

Maury Elementary School is one of seven schools in the DC Public School (DCPS) system to implement EiE with support from the technology company Raytheon, which made a $2 million award to the Museum to jumpstart use of the award-winning, inquiry-based curriculum in underserved schools. To date 149 teachers at DCPS have attended Raytheon-supported EiE professional development workshops, and more than 6,000 DCPS students have had the change to engage in hands-on classroom engineering.  

Like H.R. 823, EiE addresses the nation’s critical need for graduates with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills. Museum president and director Ioannis Miaoulis created the NCTL in 2004 with the express goal of introducing engineering to students, teachers, and lifelong learners in schools and museums nationwide. The center also promotes engineering education through policy change and legislation such as the ETEA.

Today, in the “Think Tank” (the Maury Elementary School STEM lab), Rep. Tonko and the students, all wearing protective goggles, tested the pH of different water samples, looking for clues to the source of water pollution in fictional “Greentown.” In the coming weeks, these budding environmental engineers will investigate a fictional oil spill, modeling a river using gravel in a baking pan, and using a mix of cooking oil and cocoa to represent oil. They’ll use the skills and knowledge they developed in the Greentown activity to design a clean-up process.

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 82,500 teachers and 7.5 million students in 50 states. One of the world's largest science centers and New England's most attended cultural institution, the Museum of Science introduces more than 1.4 million visitors a year to 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 PlanetariumMugar 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:

About MathMovesU

Raytheon’s MathMovesU® program is an initiative committed to increasing middle and elementary school students’ interest in math and science education by engaging them in hands-on, interactive activities. The innovative programs of MathMovesU include the traveling interactive experience MathAlive!®; Raytheon’s Sum of all Thrills™ experience at INNOVENTIONS at Epcot®, which showcases math in action as students design and experience their own thrill ride using math fundamentals; the “In the Numbers” game, a partnership with the New England Patriots on display at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon; the company’s ongoing sponsorship of the MATHCOUNTS® National Competition; and the MathMovesU scholarship and grant program. Follow MathMovesU and other Raytheon community outreach programs on Facebook and on Twitter @MathMovesU.



Engineering is Elementary