When I was I little, I used to watch reruns of the TV show “Little House on the Prairie.” The students sat passively in a late 1800s schoolhouse writing notes on slate boards with chalk. If I think back to my public education in the late 1900s, I remember sitting passively at a desk using a pen to take notes in a spiral-bound notebook.
It seems absurd to me that for 100 years, this methodology was the norm and that things remained relatively unchanged in the American educational system for such a large span of time.
Now we have globally benchmarked science standards such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) — a dynamic shift in practice for a system that’s used to evolving at a snail’s pace. One of the most potentially significant yet daunting changes signaled by these standards is the overt integration of engineering practices that went into them.
While many of the educators within my professional network are comfortable with the realignment of science content within these standards, some are concerned about the heavy emphasis on engineering design. They are not against its inclusion, but feel that they were trained to teach science and are poorly equipped to deal with this new aspect of the NGSS.
This is where partnerships like the one between The Boeing Company and Teaching Channel come into play.
Our organizations recognized the need for curricula and professional tools to address the new emphasis on engineering. So we decided to work together to create Science and Innovation. This is a collection of ten units of instruction focused on integrating engineering design thinking into science education at the elementary and middle school level. All of these units, six of which include videos documenting teaching practices that integrate engineering, were developed collaboratively by talented classroom teachers and some of the most gifted engineers that Boeing has to offer from Puget Sound, Washington, and Houston, Texas. These are industry professionals, who took a break from working on projects ranging from the CST-100 Starliner space capsule to the 787 Dreamliner, and volunteered their time and knowledge to help create curricula for students around the world to gain skills and get inspired about academic and professional opportunities in the decades to come.
The partnership coincides with Boeing’s Centennial Celebration. As the company marks 100 years of innovation and community partnerships, it seems fitting that we’re working together to equip educators to prepare the innovators of the future.
The two-week units are intended to meet a critical need by teachers for content that integrates engineering design thinking and problem-based learning — both of which are strongly emphasized in science standards such as the NGSS.
We’re proud to launch four of the ten units today:
These units immerse students in science content as they engage in an iterative process to develop and test prototypes to solve engineering design challenges. It is the collective intention of all of us involved with this incredible project that teachers like you will download and use these free resources to enhance your teaching practice and expose your students to new ways of learning. And then, like true engineers, we can work as a community on TeachingChannel.org to continuously improve our individual practice and support each other in getting better together.
I look forward to hearing about your experiences trying these units with your students and getting your feedback about how we can improve upon them. Have a wonderful school year!
For more resources like these newly launched units, check out these science and engineering resources.