Feb 27th, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Author:
The Museum of Science's National Center for Technological Literacy (NCTL) and Valley City State University (VCSU), have completed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) leveraging their strengths to bring quality standards-based engineering and technology education to K-12 schools throughout the United States. The goal is to improve the technological literacy of K-12 teachers nationwide and prepare qualified teachers to address the national shortage of technology educators.

Dr. Yvonne Spicer, NCTL vice president for advocacy and educational partnerships, at the Museum of Science, Boston, said, "Engineering builds the thinking and design skills that our students need for today's competitive global economy by asking them to apply their math and science knowledge to solve real-world problems. But to prepare our children for the 21st century, we must give our educators the engineering and technical knowledge they need to teach."

Dr. Ellen Chaffee, president of VCSU, Valley City, North Dakota, said, "Increasing the number of students entering technology and engineering fields is recognized as a critical need in the United States. Our technology/engineering education curriculum can play a strategic role by graduating teachers qualified to improve the technological literacy of their students."

According to the MOU, Valley City State University will become the lead partner in a new K-12 initiative, "Closing the Technology & Engineering Teaching Gap." The initiative will use VCSU's innovative, fully accredited online teacher certification program to increase the number of K-12 educators in technology and engineering who can effectively use NCTL materials . The NCTL will make its curriculum materials and training available to VCSU at favorable rates and inform appropriate audiences and candidates of the opportunity to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in technology education through distance delivery from VCSU.

The agreement also provides for the institutions to work collaboratively to transform the K-12 system and the postsecondary teacher education system to support and ensure technology literacy in and through all schools. One of the first outcomes of the agreement is planning two or three day workshops for K-12 teachers jointly led by NCTL staff and VCSU faculty. The first of these is planned for the summer 2008 on the VCSU campus.

The Museum of Science founded the NCTL in 2004 to enhance knowledge of engineering and technology for people of all ages and inspire the next generation of engineers and scientists. The Museum is the only science museum in the country with a comprehensive strategy and infrastructure to foster technological literacy in both science museums and schools nationwide. Through the NCTL, the Museum is 1) developing technology exhibits and programs and 2) integrating engineering as a new discipline in schools via standards-based K-12 curricular reform. Recognizing that a 21st century curriculum must include today's human-made world, the NCTL strives to introduce engineering as early as elementary school and continue it through high school, college, and beyond. The NCTL is helping schools develop standards- and research- based engineering curricula and offering educators professional development, while also advancing public understanding of engineering and technology through museum exhibits, programs, and professional development.

As a national leader in graduating pre-service and in-service K-12 technology educators, VCSU "stands ready to provide a missing piece of the puzzle – teachers who can educate a nation of technologically literate citizens," said Chaffee. The university offers both bachelor's and master's level degrees in Technology Education. Both VCSU and NCTL programs are based on the latest national standards for K-12 engineering and technology literacy standards. Online delivery makes VCSU's programs accessible anywhere an Internet connection is available. "The missions of our organizations are complementary," said Chaffee. "The NCTL creates engaging K-12 engineering curricula and resources, and VCSU produces teachers qualified to use those and related materials most effectively in the classroom. It is a natural fit."

As of December 2007, the NCTL's Engineering is Elementary elementary curriculum had reached over 4,470 teachers and 163,200 students in 42 states (and Washington, DC). In 2007, the Museum of Science launched its first school textbook publishing partnership, introducing its high school course, Engineering the Future, which has been successfully field-tested in 102 schools. A Building Math middle school curriculum, developed with Tufts University, is also now available.