Call it The Three Little Pigs with a twist.
In this version of the classic fairy tale, the three little pigs build sleds out of different materials to race down a hill. While the straw and wood sleds do not make it very far, the one of brick flies down the hill, carrying the pigs to safety from the clutches of a scheming wolf.
Revised to illustrate the principles of physical science, the story is part of a new curriculum developed by EDC that builds science, engineering, and literacy skills in students in kindergarten through grade 3, while engaging them in engineering and design activities.
“Many elementary school teachers are not comfortable teaching science and have no room for it in their already packed curriculum,” explains EDC’s Kristen Bjork. “These modules are designed to give teachers an entry point to engineering and design with a literacy focus. All facets of literacy are addressed—reading, writing, and speaking—and the units are short and can be done in a couple of weeks.”
The new curriculum is part of SAE International’s A World in Motion (AWIM) program. AWIM brings age-appropriate, hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math activities to classrooms. EDC has worked with SAE International on AWIM since the 1990s. In addition to developing the new K–3 units, EDC is also currently updating portions of the middle school curriculum.
Each of the new AWIM units features six to eight activities that allow students to investigate physical phenomena. For instance, kindergarteners use toy cars of different weights and ramps of different heights to investigate how these variables affect distance traveled. Students in grade 2 build paper helicopters and mini-parachutes to examine how seeds are dispersed in nature.
Story books written by award-winning author Stephen Krensky accompany the curriculum, linking and enhancing both the literacy and the science learning.
“The books that accompany the units are used as springboards or culminations to the engineering design activities,” says Bjork. “Children develop literacy skills as they learn to do exactly what scientists do—communicate their processes and findings in words, written notes, diagrams, and charts.”
According to Bjork, all of the activities use common materials, such as drinking straws, plastic bags, and string, and the curriculum units and materials are provided free of charge to classrooms by SAE. The curriculum is currently being pilot-tested and will be made more widely available in 2010.
Originally published on July 13, 2009