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Museum of Science and Barnes & Noble at BU host engineering event for children

Activities based on the museum’s Engineering Is Elementary storybook series

How do sails catch the wind and use its energy to move a boat? What does it take to build a strong, stable bridge? How can human beings deliver pollen to plants, a task typically performed by insects and Mother Nature? On Saturday, December 10, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., children ages 6 to 10 can investigate these and other intriguing questions at a free event sponsored by the Museum of Science and Barnes & Noble at Boston University. No registration is required.

Everyone Engineers! will take place at the Kenmore Square Barnes & Noble, 660 Beacon St. Staff from the Museum of Science will lead kids through a variety of fun hands-on activities that reinforce engineering and science concepts while exercising kids’ creativity.

Inspired by the museum’s Engineering Is Elementary storybook series and curriculum, the event features activities from three books in the popular series: Leif: Mechanical Engineering and Denmark’s Windmills; Javier: Civil Engineering and Bridges; and Mariana Becomes a Butterfly. Using everyday objects and materials, children will build their own sailboats, construct a suspension bridge, and create hand pollinators, then test their designs. All materials will be provided, and girls and boys need bring only their curiosity and imaginations.

“Children are born engineers — they are fascinated with building, with taking things apart, and with how things work,” says Christine Cunningham, the museum’s vice president for research. “With the EiE storybooks, the museum is working to cultivate kids’ understanding of engineering and technology and the roles these disciplines play in society.”

As part of its National Center for Technology Literacy initiative to integrate engineering into the classroom, the Museum of Science developed a series of illustrated storybooks for elementary school children, together with curriculum materials for teachers.

Each storybook in the Engineering Is Elementary series is narrated by a child character from a different country or racial or ethnic background. The lead character learns about a specific field of engineering while trying to solve the type of problem that a real-world engineer would face. With the help of an adult mentor, the title character uses an engineering design process that involves asking questions, brainstorming ideas, planning a design, creating and testing a prototype, and improving the design. A “Try It!” section at the end of each book invites young readers to engineer their own solutions to the same design challenge.

More than 1,250 students and 150 teachers in Massachusetts are using the EiE books and curriculum materials. The storybooks can be purchased through the Museum of Science and at Barnes & Noble at Boston University.