Engineering is Elementary

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Engineering is Elementary®

Engineering and Technology Lessons for Children

Problem Solving, Inquiry, and Innovation®

Children are born engineers—they are fascinated with building, with taking things apart, and with how things work. However, K-12 educational settings have traditionally done little to develop children’s engineering and technological literacy. The Engineering is Elementary (EiE) project fosters engineering and technological literacy among elementary school students and educators. EiE has created a research-based, standards-driven, and classroom-tested curriculum that integrates engineering and technology concepts and skills with elementary science topics. EiE lessons not only promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning in grades 2-5, but also connect with literacy and social studies. To date, EiE has reached over 2.7 million students and 33,000 teachers and is presently used in all fifty states.

EiE Project Goals

  • Goal 1. Increase children’s technological literacy.
  • Goal 2. Improve elementary educators’ ability to teach engineering and technology.
  • Goal 3. Increase the number of schools in the U.S. that include engineering at the elementary level.
  • Goal 4. Conduct research and assessment to further the first three goals and contribute knowledge about engineering teaching and learning at the elementary level.

The EiE Curriculum

Each EiE unit integrates an elementary school science topic with a specific field of engineering. EiE units are designed to engage students in the engineering design process and include:
  • Storybooks featuring child characters from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, who introduce students to an engineering problem. Students are then challenged to solve a problem similar to that faced by the main character. In addition to providing context, the storybook also serves to introduce engineering and technology concepts and terms, and reinforce science vocabulary.
  • Lesson plans for teachers. EiE teacher guides include vocabulary, learning objectives, tie-in science content, detailed materials and preparation sections, and step-by-step instructions on how to facilitate each EiE activity.
  • Duplication masters (DMs) for student handouts. To accommodate differences in students’ cognitive and linguistic abilities, EiE units contain two versions of many DMs:

Basic (lower reading level, less writing, less cognitively complex, suggested for grades 2 and 3), and

Advanced (higher reading level, more writing, more cognitively complex, suggested for grades 4 and 5). Teachers can choose the DMs that best meet the needs of their students.

Student assessments and rubrics

Multiple choice and open ended questions that teachers can use to gauge their students’ understanding and learning of engineering, technology, and science concepts are provided in each EiE unit. Rubrics are provided at the end of each lesson to help teachers evaluate students’ progress.
Background information and additional reference resources for teachers
Each EiE unit takes about 6-8 hours of instructional time to complete. EiE has developed materials for 20 elementary science school topics and engineering fields.  All EiE units are designed to meet the ITEEA Standards for Technological Literacy. At its core,
EiE is designed to have students engineer. The program develops interesting problems and contexts and invites children to have fun as they use their knowledge of science and engineering to design, create, and improve solutions.

Professional Development

Engineering is a new discipline for elementary school teachers. To learn more about engineering and technology content and pedagogy, STEM AK now offers professional development workshops developed by EiE program staff for elementary school teachers and other educators. These sessions provide teachers with an overview of engineering and technology concepts and skills, review the structure and philosophy that shape the EiE curriculum, engage participants in activities from the curriculum, and foster reflection about appropriate and effective instructional strategies.
We also offer a corporate seminar for those organizations who would like to introduce and familiarize their staff with Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. This workshop includes a discussion of What is Technology and What is Engineering, an overview of the EiE program for school districts, and hands-on team building activities to illustrate how STEM disciplines relate and depend on each other.

Research and Assessment

Research, evaluation, and assessment studies are integral to the development of the EiE curriculum, and an important facet of our curriculum development philosophy. The EiE team believes that a high-quality curriculum is one that is well-researched and thoroughly tested at all stages, from garnering a basic understanding of what students and teachers know about engineering and technology to the published product. From its inception in 2003, EiE has been committed to creating high-quality teacher guides and professional development for teachers and a world-class curriculum for students through multiple cycles of research, development, testing, and improvement. EiE is collecting qualitative and quantitative data from students and teachers across the nation to better understand how children best learn about engineering and how our materials impact their understandings.

National, statistical, controlled studies indicate that children who engage with EiE materials have a much better understanding of engineering and technology than children who do not use EiE. Findings have also shown that children who engage with EiE perform better on assessment questions about the related science topic than children who do not use EiE.

STEM AK Involvement

Staff from STEM AK ( a program of the Juneau Economic Development Council) have attended the EiE Teacher Training Institute and we now offer teacher professional development workshops to those districts and schools who would like to implement EiE in their classrooms. This would eliminate the need for teachers to travel to Boston to attend training, resulting in significant cost savings to the district. Additionally, a trained coordinator in Alaska can easily provide on-going classroom support to teachers using the EiE curriculum as well as facilitate a professional network of EiE implementers.

Please see the workshop registration and fee schedule below.  For more information about EiE training in Alaska, please contact:

Alyson Cooper
EIE Alaska Coordinator

For more information on the EiE program, visit