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Youth Engineering Solutions (YES) brings the creativity and expertise of the Museum of Science into classrooms with engaging engineering curricula focused on equity.

Museum of Science, Boston releases equity-oriented engineering curricula

Youth Engineering Solutions (YES) brings the creativity and expertise of the Museum of Science into classrooms

Key points:

Bringing public science learning beyond its onsite exhibits and programs, the Museum of Science, Boston has launched Youth Engineering Solutions (YES), a collection of preK-8 engineering and STEM curricula designed to engage students in authentic, hands-on challenges connected to their lives and communities.

YES draws on more than three decades of research and development by the Museum’s PreK-12 education division, under the leadership of founding director Dr. Christine Cunningham, senior vice president of STEM Learning at the Museum of Science.

Applying a new model for equity-oriented and socially engaged engineering learning developed by the education division, YES encourages all children to see themselves as engineers and passionate problem solvers poised to make a difference in the world. 

The demand for high-quality, standards-aligned learning resources for students and their educators is tremendous. Nationwide, the pandemic has exacerbated preexisting educational inequalities and led to steep academic declines in both math and reading that have not yet stabilized. According to National Assessment of Educational Progress test results, roughly two decades of academic progress has been lost during the pandemic.

Free of charge and aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), YES curricula respond to this great need. Each unit challenges students to address a significant real-world problem. Drawing on scientific knowledge, learners brainstorm designs, and then build, test, and analyze them iteratively to generate original solutions. As they collaboratively engage in real engineering practices and persist through failure, students strengthen their STEM and language proficiency, simultaneously.

“We are dedicated to empowering children to become lifelong STEM learners and practitioners,” said Tim Ritchie, president of the Museum of Science. “Equity-oriented and socially engaged, Youth Engineering Solutions is the newest program of our award-winning curricula division. It will be available to educators free of charge to ensure equal access and provide opportunities for students, everywhere, to reach their full potential as budding engineers.” 

YES units situate every lesson in a societal context, spurring students to consider the impacts of both scientific problems and engineered solutions on different individuals, groups, and systems. Through engineering challenges that have many viable solutions, learners are encouraged to value diverse approaches and reflect on the social, environmental, and ethical implications of their proposed designs. 

Twelve initial units have been released in elementary, middle, and out-of-school, the latter supported by the National Science Foundation. Each begins with a story, comic, or video featuring diverse narrators who situate the problems under consideration in context, model engineering behaviors, and introduce age-appropriate engineering design processes. Through YES curricula, students will engineer sun hats, nightlights, filters to reduce plastic waste entering the ocean, eco-friendly slippers, medicine coolers, rescue shuttles, and more.

Generously funded by MathWorks, each of the YES Middle School units is accompanied by two computer science modules that demonstrate how computational thinking approaches and tools can facilitate engineering problem solving. These computer science modules leverage free MATLAB interactives, enabling students to engage with a programming and numeric computing platform used by scientists and engineers across the world. 

“We have spent four years working collaboratively with teachers to develop materials that encourage students to bring their talents, ideas, and creativity to generate solutions to real-world engineering problems,” said Cunningham. “We are pleased to share these resources with the goal of educating the next generation of STEM and engineering leaders who will thoughtfully shape the world in which we live for the good of all of us.”

YES units and curricular materials, including a Teacher Guide, Student Engineering Notebooks, Classroom Slides, Family Resources, and Assessment Tools, are available for educators to download free-of-charge at As part of the Museum’s Year of the Earthshot, a yearlong focus on the climate solutions that will help us live more sustainably on Earth, many of the units feature environmentally themed challenges. 

Youth Engineering Solutions (YES) has been generously supported by the Museum’s Premier Partner MathWorks and the National Science Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Pennsylvania State University.

This press release originally appeared online.

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