San Antonio District Lands Grant to Expand Engineering Education

A grant of $37,000 from Raytheon allowed 25 teachers in the San Antonio Independent School District to attend a November 17 workshop to help them teach the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) curriculum. The teachers also received an EiE curriculum guide and a materials kit with everything they need to implement engineering activities in their elementary school classrooms.

Museum of Science, Boston created the EiE curriculum because curators there said they believed that engineering was one subject in most STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs that has received little attention.

The curriculum explores engineering fields — everything from electrical and mechanical to biomedical engineering — with activities tied to the concepts behind each field. The goal is to both have the students learn the concepts and become interested in engineering as a career.

The curriculum includes storybooks with experiments that children as young as 6 can do to solve problems using a five-step engineering design process.

One of the teachers from the San Antonio district will also attend an EiE Teacher Education Institute in Boston to acquire the skills to conduct similar workshops for other district teachers.

"As a large urban school district, we understand the importance of providing our teachers with challenging instructional resources to engage our students in STEM career fields," said Becky Landa, director of science and curriculum management for the San Antonio district. "An early pathway to increase STEM literacy is critical."

The San Antonio grant is part of a larger $2-million Raytheon initiative launched in 2011 to improve STEM education throughout the nation by expanding the use of the EiE curriculum. San Antonio is one of four districts this year and 17 since 2013 to receive the Raytheon grants.

"Our nation's competitiveness and economic growth depend on development of technical talent, and teachers are vital to this effort," said Jack Harrington, vice president of cybersecurity and special missions at Raytheon.

The Museum of Science, Boston also spent $200,000 earlier this month to help elementary school teachers integrate engineering into their classroom instruction. The EiE curriculum was developed at the museum's National Center for Technological Literacy.

"With the release of the Next Generation Science Standards in 2013, there's a new expectation that engineering will be integrated with existing elementary science curricula, and schools and districts need an effective way to do that," said Museum of Science, Boston Vice President Christine Cunningham, who founded EiE.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.