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Last week, at the annual MassTEC conference, an interesting collection of technology engineering education, science, and math teachers gathered to share experiences and information. Here are some highlights:

Johanna Bunn, of the Boston Museum of Science, introduced the Engineering the Future curriculum, with interactive demonstrations of hands-on projects introducing students to structures, fluids, and electricity.

The forum on the Massachusetts state science and technology curriculum frameworks introduced a series of strand maps that show how the concepts and possible activities in the various STEM subjects interrelate. Their hope is that existing and new courses could be designed so that they step students through learning ideas within courses and how the courses could build upon each other. Right now, the maps are static PDFs, but their goal is to have them be more interactive in the way they connect projects and concepts.

Martha Cyr, Director of K-12 Outreach at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, showed the TEACHEngineering site, which has resources for K-12 teachers. The site’s search engine allows teachers to find curriculum and projects that map to many states’ frameworks, and loads of scientific and engineering concepts. The curriculum tools on the site have a consistent look and feel and have been tested by STEM teachers.

Nate Ball of Design Squad told of his experiences in backyard, garage, and kitchen making. Though his school in Oregon lacked a hands-on technology and engineering program, his childhood was filled with adventures of the making sort. His rigorous personal projects and academic record led him to MIT, where he discovered what engineers do. When WGBH uncovered a need for youth to understand more about the realities and techniques of engineering, he was in a group of students who helped to develop possible projects for the show before he tested for and ultimately filled the role of host. The show encourages creativity, teamwork, and real world problem solving. The third season of Design Squad has just begun airing, and the site has lots of curriculum resources, and full episodes of the show.

If you are involved in an organization helping to prepare teachers and their students for a lifetime of making, pass along some links in the comments.

Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.


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