Engineering is Elementary
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Microcredential ID : 2653
Engineering by Design
0.5 USBE Credit

This microcredential represents the effective implementation of Engineering is Elementary (EIE). EIE is a project-based learning curriculum for engineering, science, and math. Teachers apply the processes and practices of project-based learning as they implement the curriculum from
How To Earn This Microcredential
To earn this microcredential you will need to collect and submit two sets of evidence showing your effective use of the Engineering is Elementary curriculum. You will also complete a short written or video reflective analysis.
If you submit this microcredential for review, you will be assessed an administrative fee of $20.00.
Clarifications is not a curriculum for digital technology. The focus is on the processes and practices of engineering; technology is employed to enhance the student understanding of concepts and development of skills.
Important Terms
Project-Based Learning: An instructional methodology where students develop knowledge through experience. Learning occurs within the context of a project that is interdisciplinary, rigorous, and student centered. Project based learning is interdisciplinary because it focuses on engaging students with real-world problems and real-world problems require application of skills from multiple disciplines. Project based learning is rigorous because it requires the application of knowledge and skills rather than recall and recognition. Project based learning is student centered because students typically follow a process that begins with inquiry; as students work toward a solution of a problem or the creation of a product, they construct personally relevant meaning. This shifts the role of the teacher from the traditional lecturer model to one of facilitator.
Background Scenario / How This Will Help You
A third grade teacher wants students to understand the relationship between living and non-living things in an ecosystem. The teacher wants students to understand that human actions can have significant impacts on the living things in an ecosystem. The teacher uses the EIE unit A Slick Solution: Cleaning an Oil Spill.
Students begin by reading from a story book that introduces students to two characters who will narrate the entire process from identifying the problem to engineering a solution. The characters explain that an oil spill has occurred in a river ecosystem, describe the impact it has had on the fish, plants, and other organisms in the ecosystem, and ask the students to help them find a solution.
In the first lesson, students are introduced to environmental engineering and discover that environmental engineers study ecosystems, the affects of human activity on the ecosystem, and engineer solutions that counter or solve these affects. Students also learn about specific short term and long term affects of oil spill on wildlife, fish, plants, and other organisms in a river ecosystem. In the second lesson, students learn to measure the pH level of soil and water and compare polluted soil and water with historical data. In the third lesson, students explore the food web that exists in the river ecosystem where the oil spill takes place and then investigate the oil absorbing properties of a variety of materials and the efficacy of different methods for containing and removing oil from the surface of the water. In the fourth lesson, students design, build, test, and improve an oil cleaning process that may involve the design of a new product that will help to absorb oil from the fur or feather of marine or aquatic life. Finally, students report their findings and reflect on the merits of their oil cleaning process or product.
Evidence Options
Category: Preparation and Planning
Select ONE of the evidence options below to demonstrate your preparation and planning for using Engineering is Elementary with your learners.
Unit Plan: Submit a unit plan that demonstrates understanding of the structure of EIE units. For each of the 4 lessons in the unit, plans should include identification of key knowledge (what students should know and be able to do) including vocabulary; essential resources and anticipation of additional resources to meet student needs; questions that guide student learning (reflect, clarify, and extend); standards addressed from multiple disciplines (science, math, language arts, social studies) as well as indicators of learning for 21st century skills (communication, collaboration, creative thinking, critical thinking); adjustments for student population (cultural context); differentiation for diverse learners; extensions to real world applications and careers; and plans for assessment of student learning.
Category: Implementation
Select ONE of the evidence options below to demonstrate your effective implementation of Engineering is Elementary with your learners.
Video: Submit a 5 to 8 minute video that demonstrates your ability to implement the EIE project-based curriculum effectively. The video should include at least one of the following elements of the EIE process: a) establishing the context for the unit of study and/or introducing the problem to be solved; b) reviewing resources available to students as part of the unit; c) establishing the criteria for the student process, product, or project that are derived from standards; d) establishing classroom norms and procedures; e) encouraging student voice and choice including identification of real-world issues and problems students want to address in projects; f) scaffolding instruction that provides content on a need to know basis and is guided by student questions; g) providing direction or activities that improve student collaboration; h) modeling of management tools such as the Engineering Design Notebooks and additional calendars, project work reports, work logs, or rubrics; i) use of effective questioning strategies that help students to reflect on their learning, clarify their understanding, or extend thinking to multiple subject areas or real life applications; j) providing effective feedback to encourage revision of student process and design choices. This video should follow all relevant district/charter and FERPA guidelines.
Student Work: Submit three examples of student work that is produced as the student completes the EIE unit. These may be drawn, photocopied, photographed or video recorded. These may include design plans, design iterations, data charts, reflective entries in the student's engineering design notebooks, student presentations, and student products. Be sure to follow your district/charter guidelines for student privacy. May also include teacher added extensions such as collaborative work rubrics, time management tools, historical perspective or real life application reports or activities, or various science and math extensions. These examples should demonstrate your ability to implement the EIE curriculum effectively.

Review Criteria
Criterion 1: Evidence demonstrates that the educator is familiar with the structure of units and implements the four lessons of each unit.

Criterion 2: Evidence demonstrates that the educator is familiar with the engineering design process, uses the engineering design process to structure student learning within each of the four lessons, and facilitates the use of the engineering design process by students.

Criterion 3: Evidence demonstrates that the educator is familiar with instructional practices that are specific to STEM such as trans-disciplinary integration, connection to real world problems, and connections to careers.
Reflection Prompts
Describe how the implementation of the unit worked in your classroom. Was this your first experience with project-based learning? How does project-based learning contrast with traditional methods such as direct instruction? Keeping these specific contrasts in mind, what problems did you encounter that surprised you? What successes did you experience that surprised you? How did your students benefit from the unit?
Reflect on any of the following that you may have experienced and that may have been challenging for you: honoring student voice and choice, specifically allowing students to suggest and pursue individualized paths of study; allowing students to struggle as they worked through a problem to be solved; allowing students to struggle as they worked through an open-ended design challenge that did not have a "correct" answer, allowing students to fail in the first iterations of designs; encouraging students to explore, discover, and investigate answers rather than providing them; having adequate background knowledge to guide students; having adequate skills with technical tools that could be leveraged to improve student processes and products.
How did you feel in the role as a facilitator or coach rather than as the sole content expert? Were you comfortable or uncomfortable? How could you improve?

Review Criteria
Criterion 1: The reflective analysis indicates an understanding of the differences between traditional methods of direct instruction and project-based learning in design, planning, content delivery (scaffolding,) management, and assessment.
Criterion 2:The reflective analysis indicates awareness of the importance of key practices of Project-Based Learning that relate to student autonomy: honoring student voice and choice including identification of real-world issues and problems that students want to address in projects; allowing students to struggle with problem-solving and open-ended design challenges; and allowing students to fail in design iterations (that it is okay to take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them.)
Criterion 3:The reflective analysis indicates that the educator can identify his/her strengths as a facilitator as well as his weaknesses and can identify areas for improvement.
Resources Microcredentials
This is a series of videos, reflection questions, and activities that allow a teacher to work at his/her own pace to learn the primary principles of project based learning.

The Buck Institute for Education
The Buck Institute is devoted to showing teachers how to use Project Based Learning in all grade levels and subject areas. The Buck Institute creates, gathers, and shares high-quality PBL instructional practices, resources, and products for teachers, schools, and districts. The resource section provides excellent rubrics to aid in the assessment of student learning as well as teacher implementation of project-based-learning.

Christine Cunningham. Engineering in Elementary STEM Education: Curriculum Design, Instruction, Learning, and Assessment. Teachers College Press: 2018.
Christine Cunningham is the pioneering spirit behind the curriculum. This book reviews the history of the development of the curriculum, gives an excellent review of the differences between science and engineering, and provides practical suggestions for implementing the curriculum.

STEM Teaching Tools
The STEM Teaching Tools site focuses on teaching of the Next Generation Science Standards. Each "tool" is a collection of knowledge from research and practice. As the curriculum is aligned to the NGSS, many of the tools from this site are very relevant and useful for improving curriculum implementation. For example, the tools for effective questioning strategies and for encouraging student voice are in line with the instructional practices recommended by

Engineering is Elementary Website
This is the website for the Boston Museum of Science program Engineering is Elementary. It contains a wealth of resources on the history of eie, the research that has been conducted, how the program works, as well as unit specific resources for implementation and extension.
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