McKINNEY (Feb. 27, 2014) — On Tuesday, Feb. 18, 24 McKinney ISD 3rd and 4th grade teachers and instructional coaches gathered at McKinney Boyd High School for training in a program that will bring an enhanced engineering focus to the elementary classroom.

That program is called, aptly, Engineering is Elementary (EiE), and its introduction to MISD classrooms has been made possible by a $37,000 scholarship funded by Raytheon and awarded by EiE.

When it comes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, Raytheon has become an increasingly familiar presence around McKinney ISD. In 2010, their expertise and financial support, in conjunction with McKinney ISD science teachers, played a vital role in bringing the LASER (Leadership and Science Ensure Results) program to the District’s high school physics classrooms. A $10,000 grant from Raytheon in 2012 further allowed MISD to expand the LASER program to 6th grade classrooms in 2013. Now, their support is serving to enhance STEM education at the elementary level.

The EiE cross-disciplinary classroom units were developed by the Museum of Science in Boston with the aim of promoting and bolstering engineering instruction in our nation’s elementary schools. According to their website, EiE offers “fun, engaging engineering challenges” that “boost student interest in engineering” and are “standards-based, research-based and teacher tested.”

Mike Childress, a 4th grade teacher at Finch Elementary, said of the EiE program, “Students get a great deal of problem solving experience as well as critical thinking using lessons that are not only hands-on, but draw from all subjects and relate to the real world.”

Vega Elementary 4th grade teacher Paula Clements (left) and 3rd grade teacher Kristi Ward (right) work through a student lesson on electric circuits during Elementary is Education curriculum training.

Photos courtesy of Keir Burke

Vega Elementary 4th grade teacher Paula Clements (left) and 3rd grade teacher Kristi Ward (right) work through a student lesson on electric circuits during Elementary is Education curriculum training.

 

The problems are introduced primarily through literature. A story about a young Australian girl who is trying to work out a more efficient means to water her sheep leads to an investigation of electricity and the creation of an electrical circuit. In another story, a boy decides to build a bridge across a small creek, and the plot points students toward a challenge involving structural integrity. Each lesson brings engineering to the student’s world in an authentic manner.

Implementation of any District-wide instruction involves some cost, but the scholarship covers the expense of EiE training and curriculum kits for each MISD 3rd and 4th grade classroom, and the District will send Childress to Boston in May for extended training. That’s covered, too.

This summer, MISD Elementary Science Coordinator Keir Burke and Childress will integrate the EiE lessons into the existing curriculum, and classroom implementation should begin this fall.

"McKinney ISD is honored and excited to be chosen by Engineering is Elementary and Raytheon to receive a scholarship to participate in this engaging opportunity,” said Burke.

“We are committed to providing our young scientists with hands on learning opportunities that connect to the real world. Engineering is Elementary offers outstanding real world connections that engage students and pushes them to extend and apply their learning,” she said.

For additional information on McKinney ISD, contact Shane Mauldin, MISD Communications Coordinator, at 469-302-4007 or smauldin@mckinneyisd.net.

 

About McKinney ISD

One of the fastest growing school districts in Texas, the McKinney Independent School District currently enrolls more than 24,750 students in 20 elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools, four alternative schools and one early childhood education school. The mission of McKinney ISD, the champion for progressive learning throughout the diverse McKinney community, is to inspire and equip all students to explore, develop and express their unique potential as innovators, critical thinkers and collaborators through challenging, engaging and diverse learning experiences in vital partnership with the community. Visit the district's website at mckinneyisd.net.