This post was written by guest blogger Alex Belous, Education Portfolio Manager for Cisco Systems and the Cisco Foundation. Alex Belous

Each year, more than 1.4 million people visit the Museum of Science, Boston, where they marvel at exhibits covering everything from aviation to evolution. In 2004, the museum launched the National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), a program designed to teach visitors about science and engineering.

Shortly after, the NCTL recognized the need to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and launched Engineering is Elementary® (EiE®) in 2005, a project that sparks students’ interest in STEM and helps children in grades 1 through 8 develop engineering and technological literacy.

The NCTL recently received the National Science Board’s (NSB) 2015 Public Service Award, which acknowledged the center’s pioneering work in engineering education curricula for K-12 schools nationwide.

At EiE, students take part in fun, engaging STEM activities (Photo courtesy Boston Museum of Science)
At EiE, students take part in fun, engaging STEM activities (Photo courtesy Boston Museum of Science)

“The center’s innovative exhibits, programs and curricular projects have brought engineering, technology and science to millions of students across the country and provided teachers with the professional training they need for the 21st Century classroom,” said Vint Cerf, chair of NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards.

Since 2005, Cisco has supported the NCTL’s Engineering is Elementary program with $2.1 million in cash and product grants. Through the support of Cisco and other sponsors, the program has grown to be the nation’s most widely used elementary engineering curriculum, reaching 77,000 educators and 7.7 million children nationwide since its release in 2005.

Christine M. Cunningham, the founder and director of the Engineering is Elementary program, lists a few of the projects that Cisco’s support has made possible.

“Cisco funding supported the creation of a video that introduces educators to the Engineering is Elementary curriculum and the benefits it provides for students,” she said. “Over the past six years, this video has been viewed more than 5000 times” by decision-makers who are working to improve STEM education in their schools.

Students also learn how to work together to finish creative projects (Photo courstey Boston Museum of Science)

The Engineering is Elementary  program also launched its Professional Development Resource Guides, which are ensuring that teachers everywhere receive high-quality training and improve STEM education for students nationwide. With the help of Cisco funding, EiE created 20 downloadable guides, which cover each of the program’s curriculum units and guarantee teachers are connected to a network of trained professionals.

“EiE really got our STEM students thinking and talking like engineers. After a unit is over, they continue to use the academic language they learned. They love the hands-on investigations, and parents report they bring discussions home,” said Cindy Rice, a second grade teacher at Gowan Science Academy in Yuma, Arizona,

The NSB presented the NCTL with its Public Service Award on May 5, 2015 during the NSF-NSB Annual Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to the National Center for Technological Literacy at the Museum of Science, Boston on the outstanding achievement!


Austin Belisle

No Longer with Cisco