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North Alabama teachers enjoy hands-on learning at Engineering is Elementary training workshopParticipants in Engineering is Elementary teacher workshops receive reading materials and lesson plans for their classrooms. (Contributed photo/Raytheon)

- A love of science, engineering andmath must be fostered while students are young. It's up to elementary schoolteachers to develop those passions and set the stage for the next generation ofscientists and engineers.

That's the theory behind the Engineering is Elementarylearning program. Created by the Boston Museum of Science, EIE spread its reach through a in 2011 to establish three EIE training sites in the country:Huntsville, Phoenix, Az., and Washington, D.C. Last month, the Huntsville sitehosted an educators training session at UAH.

About 50 participants from surrounding elementary schools,as well as representatives from nine of the 11 Alabama Math, Science, andTechnology Initiative sites, took part in the training.

Brenda Terry, executive director for the AlabamaMathematics, Science, and Technology Education Coalition at UAH, said theseminar was the second training session offered. The first included many schooladministrators with the December session including hands-on experiments andlesson information on the Engineering is Elementary program.

"The program is really about helping teachers andadministrators on what is technology and what is technology literacy," Terrysaid. "It's learning about an engineering state of mind, going through thecreative thinking and design process."

Among the projects the teachers tackled were designingparachutes and electrical circuits. The teachers also received story books and aneducator's kit to use in the classroom.

Raytheon volunteer Deborah Thomas said kit's lesson planswere especially valuable take-homes for the teachers.

"The teachers were really excited the whole lesson wasplanned for them," she said. "Teachers spend a huge amount of time preparingand getting their lessons ready. The EIE information allows them to concentrateon the teaching aspect and concentrate on the extra activities that correlatewith it."

Bonnie Howard, a social studies/science teacher at MadisonElementary, said the training offered an "exciting day of hands-on learning."

Howard said she participated in activities such as designinga "thrill ride" using pipe and Styrofoam cups.

"I was so engaged with the task that I hated for theactivity to end," she said. "In the 10-15 minutes it took to complete thatactivity I learned so much about the engineering design process. I found myself with several "aha"moments as I looked around at the other designs. I have shared my experiencewith my family and colleagues and it has occurred to me that if that activitywas thrilling to me as an adult how much more exciting it must be for students."

Terry said UAH is planning on conducting one more EIEtraining session for teachers.

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