Developing a Passion for STEM at the Elementary Level

IU13 team begins … “at the beginning!”

Teachers at TrainingPassion, access, understanding, and potential careers – all are the focus of the region’s up-and-coming Engineering by Design (EbD) program. While STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) efforts might bring to mind images of high school students creating on 3D printers or middle schoolers exploring robotics, EbD starts at the “beginning,” by providing a model curriculum for elementary students.

EbD teaches and guides today’s youngest students with a clear future focus in mind. Technology has become pervasive in the modern world, engineering is the basis of design, and mathematics are inherent to the makeup of creation. By allowing students early-on to become exposed to STEM, they are able to develop a potential passion and future career in one of these fields. 

Engineering by Design (EbD) was born of the desire for all students to receive quality STEM education. Plus, educators have expressed a need for guidance, support, and funding for the next steps in STEM. Enter EbD-TEEMS! This acronym appropriately describes its focus, standing for Engineering by Design – Technology, Engineering, Environment, Math, and Science. The program was developed by the STEM Center for Teaching and Learning, a division of the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA). Specific goals and learning objectives are outlined for each grade K-5, which include describing creative processes, understanding the usage of tools and machines, comprehending the natural world versus the human-made world, and brainstorming solutions to problems and designs.

Community partnerships are at the core of EbD’s efforts, too, as this initiative is powered by an exciting joint effort of IU13 (EbD statewide lead), the Lancaster STEM Alliance, the Steinman Foundation, ITEEA, and Lancaster County school districts.

Curt Funkhouser, IU13 Curriculum and Instruction Consultant for STEM, explains that the goal of Engineering by Design is to “deliver consistent STEM education at the elementary level, [offer] fair access to elementary education, [and] provide a county-wide standard implementation of a curriculum.” And not only is EbD focused on education in students, but in teachers as well. Teachers receive training and a classroom materials kit, all while gaining online access to EbD curriculum. Along with this, it is the goal of EbD to thoroughly enhance teachers’ understanding of STEM learning opportunities and 21st century application for every student. For the students themselves, the goal is to increase understanding in the worlds of science, technology, engineering, and mathematical concepts. Accompanied by an increase in understanding, EbD strives to increase student attitudes towards these fields, while promoting an interest in STEM and STEM careers.

Lofty goals? Perhaps – but fueled by the power and energy of our youngest students and enthusiastic STEM educators, EbD is already taking off for success!

For more information, please contact Curt Funkhouser.