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BOSTON, Mass. - The Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative (AMSTI) has selected an elementary curriculum developed at the Museum of Science, Boston for a statewide program to improve STEM education and promote educational equity. The award-winning Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) curriculum, created by the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy®, will be made available to schools through 11 AMSTI support centers around the state, eventually reaching up to 140,000 elementary students.
"We are thrilled that the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative will be using Engineering is Elementary statewide," says Museum president and director Ioannis Miaoulis. "Their validation of our research-based, teacher-tested program will greatly expand our ability to inspire children of all backgrounds with engaging hands-on engineering activities."
Alabama recently adopted new science standards that make engineering practices part of K – 12 instruction. This move created a need for curricula to help schools meet the standards. "We chose our STEM curricula through a very rigorous selection process, with an emphasis on hands-on, inquiry-based learning," says ASMTI director Steve Ricks. "We're really happy to bring in EiE to help meet those goals."
With half of Alabama's 1,100 elementary schools considered official AMSTI schools, Ricks estimates that over the next few years, about 140,000 elementary students will learn with EiE. The curriculum is widely used nationwide, including statewide in Delaware, in Iowa through the state's STEM Scale-up Program, in the nation's military schools, and district wide in such large districts as Baltimore, Washington, DC, and Minneapolis. In all, EiE has reached more than 9 million students and nearly 100,000 teachers.
“We're so pleased by this recognition from Alabama -- and for the opportunity to support even more teachers and students in the state,” notes EiE director Christine Cunningham. Though AMSTI's large-scale adoption of EiE is new, the curriculum's connection to the AMSTI center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville is longstanding. In 2007, the UAH Institute for Science Education brought the curriculum to several local schools and teacher leaders with support from NASA/MSFC and Boeing.
Then, in 2011, Raytheon made a $2 million award to the Museum for a variety of initiatives designed to bring EiE to high-needs districts across the country; one of these initiatives established three “EiE hub sites” for professional development, including the Institute for Science Education / AMSTI support center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Another Raytheon supported initiative awarded a "Raytheon – EiE district scholarship" to Alabama's Athens City Schools. From February 2013 to January 2015, Raytheon support helped bring EiE to some 12,440 Alabama students.
“Alabama's adoption of EiE shows the meaningful impact we can have when we all work together to improve STEM education,” said Kevin Byrnes, vice president, Raytheon Huntsville. “EiE helps teachers bring engineering and technology concepts to life, enabling them to excite students to become the innovators of tomorrow.”
Various studies rank Alabama near the bottom in quality of K -12 education. AMSTI was created in 2000 to address this issue and bills itself as the nation's largest and most comprehensive math and science program; this year, state legislators allocated $30 million to the initiative. AMSTI emphasizes hands-on learning that relates to students' real-world experiences and promotes educational equity. Both internal and external research finds that the EiE curriculum helps to meet these specific goals.
About the Museum of Science, Boston
One of the world's largest science centers and Boston's most attended cultural institution, the Museum introduces nearly 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 is the nation's first science center with a comprehensive strategy and infrastructure to foster technological literacy in museums and schools nationwide. In 2015, its NCTL received the National Science Board's Public Service Award. NCTL curricula have reached 9.5 million students and 104,000 teachers. The Museum's 10,000-square-foot Hall of Human Life draws on the latest discoveries in the life sciences to engage visitors in their own biology and health. Other highlights include The Science Behind Pixar (through Jan 10, 2016), the Thomson Theater of Electricity, Charles Hayden Planetarium, Mugar Omni Theater, Gordon Current Science & Technology Center, Butterfly Garden and 4-D Theater. Reaching over 20,000 teens a year worldwide via the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, 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. Follow the Museum of Science on Twitter at @MuseumOfScience or Facebook at www.facebook.com/museumofscience.