Jess & Mildred Fisher College of 
			 Science & Mathematics


Promoting Engineering Education in Elementary Schools and Clubs — The PEEESC Program

The SySTEmic Elementary Engineering Project: A Partnership Among Harford County Public Schools, Engineering is Elementary and Towson University

Since the spring of 2008, Dr. Lottero-Perdue has been a partner with Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) to develop a systemic elementary engineering education program for all 1st through 5th grade students in the district. The multi-year project involves the design of science-technology-engineering (STE)-integrated units (i.e., STE units) at each of grades one through five, professional development for teachers, a gradual implementation approach, and a system of feedback in which teachers help shape new versions of each unit.

Each STE unit includes an engineering unit from the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) curriculum

blended with revised and highly interconnected science units of instruction initially written by HCPS teachers. EiE units were chosen at each grade level based upon their ability to enhance science instruction in those respective grades. One of Dr. Lottero-Perdue's primary roles on the SySTEmic project is to help blend the science and EiE units together, which involves altering, removing or adding science lessons and determining an order of science and EiE lessons that creates a coherent "true story" that the STE unit tells. See the table, below, for the SySTEmic Project units and implementation schedule.

Table: SySTEmic Project units—which are blends of science and EiE units—for pilot year and year for full implementation for 1st through 5th grades. TBD = to be determined.

  3rd Grade 4th Grade 1st Grade 2nd Grade 5th Grade
STE Unit Motion, Energy & Mechanical Engineering Rocks, Minerals & Materials Engineering States of Matter & Chemical Engineering Pollination Partners & Agricultural Engineering TBD
Science Unit Energy in Motion Rocks & Minerals Solids, Liquids & Gases Growth & Change Energy All Around Us
EiE Unit Catching the Wind: Designing Windmills A Sticky Situation: Designing Walls A Work in Process: Designing a Play Dough Process The Best of Bugs: Designing Hand Pollinators An Alarming Idea: Designing Alarm Circuits
Pilot Year 2009 – 2010 2010 – 2011 2011 – 2012
Year of Full Implementation 2010 – 2011 2011 – 2012 2012 – 2013

Of the 33 elementary schools in HCPS, 8 have participated as pilot schools. Pilot schools are where each STE unit within the SySTEmic Project is taught one year prior to full implementation in the district (i.e., during the pilot year), enabling the pilot teachers to provide feedback on the STE unit prior to full implementation. The pilot schools represent a diversity of size, socio-economic status and ethnicity of the student body, and geographic location within the district.

Classroom and enrichment teachers who are involved in the project receive approximately 6 hours of professional development for each STE unit. Enrichment teachers at each school site in which the project is piloted are involved to support and enhance classroom instruction. Dr. Lottero-Perdue provides professional development for all pilot year classroom and enrichment teachers. SySTEmic Project master teachers—i.e., those who have taught an STE-unit in the pilot year and are interested in teaching teachers—provide professional development for the full implementation year.

In-depth interviews and teacher surveys during the first full year of the project (2009-2010) have helped project leaders assess the health of the project throughout implementation, and have served as a basis for educational research so that the lessons learned from this project can be shared with others nationally.

Funding

Funding sources for the project, thus far:

  • A 2010-2011 MSDE STEM grant ($100,000) awarded to HCPS; subaward to TU ($6,700).
  • Monetary support from the National Dissemination through Regional Partners program, funded by the Bechtel Foundation through EiE, to support project activities for 2009 and 2010. (Awardee/Hub Site Partner: Dr. Lottero-Perdue.)
  • A Workforce ONE Maryland Program grant ($100,000) from the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation, which supported project activities during the first half of 2009. (Principal Investigator: Dr. Lottero-Perdue.)
  • Funds awarded to Dr. Lottero-Perdue from the 2008-2009 College of Graduate Studies and Research Faculty Fellowship Program were helpful in supporting the early stages of this work.

HCPS was also awarded $100,000.00 from the Maryland State Department of Education for their "Greengineering" Project (Principle Investigator: Mr. Mark Herzog, HCPS), which is related to, enhances, and extends the work of The SySTEmic Elementary Engineering Project in the 5th through 8th grades. Dr. Lottero-Perdue is involved in the Greengineering Project as an engineering education consultant.

Additional funding to support of the SySTEmic Project is continually being sought.

Project Team

Lead Team (alphabetical order):
  • Mr. Eric Cromwell, Coordinator of Accelerated Learning Programs, HCPS
  • Mr. Mark Herzog, Assistant Supervisor of Science and Director, Harford Glen, HCPS
  • Dr. Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University
  • Mr. Andrew Renzulli, Supervisor of Science, HCPS
  • Ms. Amy Ryan, Teacher Specialist for Elementary Science, HCPS
  • Towson University Partners:
  • Dr. Paz Galupo, Professor of Psychology and Director, Institute for Academic Diversity (Role
          in Project: Teacher Survey Development)
  • Dr. David Reiss, Assistant Professor, Electronic Media & Film Department (Film
          Development)
  • Undergraduate Assistant:
  • Ms. Chrysta Ghent (Spring/Summer 2009)
  • Ms. Reyn Boyer (Fall 2010)
  • Harford Community College Partners:
  • Ms. Deb Wrobel, Dean of STEM Education (Provision of Professional Development Site)

  • The PEEESC Program is directed by:
    Dr. Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue
    Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences
    Towson University
    410-704-4598
    plottero@towson.edu

     

    The Jess and Mildred Fisher
    College of Science and Mathematics
    Smith Hall, Room 312 (campus map)
    Phone: 410-704-2121
    Fax: 410-704-2604
    E-mail: fcsm@towson.edu


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