Students and local educators complete ‘Engineering is Elementary’ workshop

Engineering is Elementary
Clockwise from left: School of Education student teachers Megan Mourao and Jara Richards take part in the “Engineering is Elementary” program with their cooperating teachers Anne Marie Wintenburg, a teacher at Doolittle Elementary School in Cheshire, and Amy Warren, a teacher at Church Street School in Hamden.

Jan. 14, 2013 - Incorporating engineering into an elementary school lesson plan is not so difficult after all.

That's what five School of Education students and their cooperating teachers learned on Jan. 11, when they took part in the workshop, Engineering is Elementary,® a National Center for Technological Literacy project to enhance engineering and technology knowledge and to inspire the next generation of engineers, inventors and innovators.

Lucie Howell, director of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Center for Science Teaching and Learning at Quinnipiac, led the training which included students and cooperating teachers from Cheshire, Hamden, New Haven and Norwalk.

The attendees took part in a series of activities designed to expand their thinking about technology.

"Technology is anything human-made that is used to solve a problem or fulfill a desire," said Howell, who led the workshop at the School of Education on Quinnipiac's North Haven Campus. "Technology can be an object, a system or a process."

Howell had the participants work in teams to determine how various everyday objects, including spoons, painter's tape, Post-it Notes and highlighters, are all forms of technology.

Amanda Lubin, a student teacher at the Fair Haven School in New Haven, said the workshop taught her how to integrate engineering into her lesson plans and to think more broadly about technology. "Technology is just not cell phones and computers," she said. "This workshop showed me how to make students think about the world and how it was not always the way it is today. Not everything we have today was always available to us. We've had to change and modernize."

Andrew Turkewitz, a student teacher at the Bear Path School in Hamden, agreed. "This has been wonderful," he said. "It has given me good ideas how to use engineering as a theme for integrated teaching. It really lends itself to teaching science and mathematics.

In another exercise, the participants formed groups of four and were given index cards and tape to build a stand to hold a small teddy bear. At the end of the activity, each team displayed and tested its stand and discussed how they constructed it.

"I hope the student teachers and their cooperating teachers see how they can introduce more integrated STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) activities into their classroom activities," Howell said. "I also want them to see how science, technology and engineering overlap. My hope is that they realize that these types of activities can add to the learning environment without increasing their workloads."

Watch a video about the workshop: