CISCO Awards $125K to Museum of Science, Boston for Digital Initiative Helping Teachers Integrate Engineering in Classrooms

August 2, 2016

BOSTON, Mass. -- A Global Impact Grant from Cisco Systems, Inc. for Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®), a project of the Museum of Science, Boston, will fund a pilot project to create digital professional development resources for teachers of elementary engineering nationwide. The $125,000 grant from the world’s largest networking company supports the Museum in its mission to transform engineering and technology education across the United States and beyond.

The Cisco initiative is called “Engineering is Elementary: Implementation Support through Online Resources.” Over the next year, EiE staff at the Museum's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®) will create and pilot-test a variety of online and on-demand professional development resources to support teachers and teacher educators in implementing EiE, an award-winning curriculum for grades 1 – 5.

"This generous gift from Cisco, a longtime Museum supporter, enables the creation of a multifaceted array of online workshops, seminars, video chats, and other resources which will be invaluable in preparing educators to implement classroom engineering," says Museum of Science president and NCTL founder Ioannis Miaoulis. "We are thrilled to be able to expand our efforts to introduce engineering to teachers and teacher educators through this unique digital initiative."

As engineering has become increasingly integrated with K-12 science education, EiE has grown into the nation’s most widely used elementary engineering curriculum, reaching an estimated 10 million children. It is used in all 50 states and districtwide in such large cities as Washington, DC, and Minneapolis.

“EiE already offers professional development workshops for teachers through a national network of partners,” says Christine Cunningham, EiE director and Museum vice president. “But not every teacher can attend a conventional, face-to-face workshop. Online delivery is especially important in rural districts where travel is difficult, and in districts with high proportions of underserved students, where limited budgets often prevent access to workshops and training. We’re so grateful to Cisco enabling us to expand our menu of PD offerings into the digital realm, making EiE PD more widely available.”

Under the Cisco grant, four kinds of novel digital resources will be developed and tested:

  • EiE Webinars that introduce educators to engineering education;
  • EiEXchange sessions that focus on effective strategies for teaching engineering;
  • EiE Follow Up sessions that create an online community of teachers who share classroom successes and challenges and collaborate to improve the way engineering is taught;
  • EiE ShareOuts where certified EiE professional development providers can expand their workshop facilitation skills and knowledge of the elementary education field.

The grant will also support teachers from ten different schools in implementing the EiE curriculum by providing blended face-to-face and online professional development and curriculum materials. These teachers will participate in pilot-testing of the online sessions.

“Promoting access to education through networked technology is a priority for Cisco,” says Peter Tavernise, Executive Director of the Cisco Foundation. “We’re so pleased to support Engineering is Elementary in making high-quality professional development more readily available to the teachers who do the critical work of preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s problem-solvers in our technology-driven society.”

Developed with support from the National Science Foundation, the EiE 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. EiE was one of the first programs chosen by Change the Equation as part of President Obama's "Educate to Innovate" campaign. The curriculum was recognized by the Silicon Valley Education foundation with a STEM Innovation Award in 2013 and received the 2014 ISDDE Prize for excellence in curriculum design.

About Cisco Foundation's Past Contributions to the Museum of Science, Boston

Since 2005, Cisco has supported the Museum with $2.1 million in cash and product grants for initiatives such as the creation of a video that introduces educators—in particular the decision-makers who are working to improve STEM education in their schools—to Engineering is Elementary and its benefits for students. Cisco support also helped the Engineering is Elementary program to launch Professional Development Resource Guides which are ensuring that teachers everywhere receive high-quality training, improving STEM education for students nationwide. The 20 downloadable guides, which cover each of the program’s curriculum units, help a network of trained workshop facilitators deliver consistent EiE professional development to teachers nationwide.

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 10.5 million students and 122,400 educators, 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. Highlights include the Yawkey Gallery on the Charles River, 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, is touring nationally. The Museum has also led a 10-year, $41 million National Science Foundation-funded Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network of science museums. Visit:

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