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Re-Engineering Your Science Curriculum

This is an Exploratorium Teacher Institute professional development course open to any middle or high school science teacher. This course is designed to help science teachers infuse their curriculum with hands-on STEM activities that support the NGSS engineering practices.

About the Course

This is a hands-on workshop that explores various strategies that middle and high school teachers can use to integrate engineering practices into science lessons and laboratory investigations that they already do. We will start by comparing and contrasting the research methods employed by scientists and engineers, then demonstrate ways that teachers can facilitate, sequence, and assess lessons designed to help students understand and apply engineering principles. These principles include learning to (1) design within constraints, (2) analyze and interpret data, (3) construct models, and (4) conduct iterative tests. Upon completing this course, teachers will possess a deeper understanding of engineering and be able to effectively teach engineering processes to their students.

Course Syllabus

Week One: Learning from Failure
One of the best ways to introduce and understand engineering practices is by studying real-life examples, including what went wrong. We'll look at some famous engineering failures (and successes) and explore teaching applications.

Week Two: Science and Engineering Thinking
The Next Generation Science Standards explicitly call out the differences between science and engineering. We'll use exhibits from the Exploratorium museum floor to illustrate some of these differences, and ask you to re-imagine your own science activity from an engineering perspective.

Week Three: Modeling Activities
A hallmark of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute is that we have developed lots of "snacks" over the years: hands-on teaching activities (thoroughly tested by students and teachers) that explore scientific phenomena using easy-to-obtain materials. This week, we'll share some of our favorites and ask you to try them out at home.

Week Four: Develop Your Own Engineering Activity
It's your turn! Take what you've learned in the class and create your own mini-lesson. You can adapt one of our activities or come up with your own and get feedback and tips from other students in the class.

Recommended Background

This course is appropriate for any middle or high school teacher interested in learning how to incorporate engineering activities into their science curriculum. Formal training in the physical or life sciences is highly recommended (BA/BS in science or equivalent).

Suggested Readings

We recommend that participants familiarize themselves with the Next Generation Science Standards (specifically, the engineering practices) before starting this course.

The website gives a good overview of the new standards, which is organized along three primary dimensions.

The full text of the NGSS framework is available for free from the National Academies Press: A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

You can also watch these short videos from Paul Anderson of Bozeman Science, which do a great job of explaining specific NGSS practices in detail:

ETS1A - Defining & Delimiting an Engineering Problem
ETS1B - Developing Possible Solutions
ETS1C - Optimizing the Design Solution
ETS2A - Interdependence of Science, Engineering & Technology
ETS2B - Influence of Science, Engineering & Technology on Society & the Natural World

Course Format

Each week will include 2-4 short videos highlighting aspects of engineering practice. Course participants will be asked to try out some activities and also reflect on and critically examine the engineering activities. Participants will also examine strategies for monitoring student learning. Links to engineering activities and teaching resources will be provided. There will also be readings and assignments to complete.


•  Will I get a certificate after completing this class that I can show to my district?
Yes. Participants who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.  It will indicate that you completed 12 hours.