National Center for Technological Literacy Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts

National Center for Technological Literacy
Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts
Profile for Learning Tour conducted on
Monday, November 5, 2007
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“To integrate engineering as a new discipline in schools nationwide and to inspire the
next generation of engineers and innovators”: This is the goal of the National Center for
Technological Literacy (, part of the Museum of Science in Boston,
Massachusetts. The NCTL hopes to raise technology and engineering education to the
same level of importance as science and mathematics in K–12 curricula.
NCTL’s work focuses on three major efforts.
First, the Center advocates regionally and nationally for the development of standards
related to technology and engineering education. The Center’s leaders are engaged in
a nationwide effort to include integrated technology and engineering content in state
K–12 curriculum standards.
Second, NCTL develops and publishes curricular materials that support integrated
technology and engineering content; currently, the Center has released resources for
elementary, middle school, and high school activities.
Finally, NCTL offers professional development for teachers to help them better
understand core engineering and technology concepts.
Why we visited
NCTL’s goals to integrate engineering into schools and to inspire the next generation of
engineers and innovators echo the goals of the Texas High School Project. Further,
NCTL is the base for national leaders in the fields of engineering and technology
education whose expertise would, we believed, prove valuable to our TC-STEM efforts.
We visited the Center to learn more about the resources it is developing and the policies
the Center’s staff are promoting and to share our work in Texas.
What we learned
Having reflected on our visit, we have chosen to highlight the following features of
NCTL: the Technology and Engineering Resources website and the series of Engineering
is Elementary booklets. Creation of these resources was driven by NCTL’s desire to
make science and math education relevant to students’ lives. As the Center’s director, Dr.
Yannis Miaoulis, put it, “If you look at the world around you, probably 90% of the things
National Center for Technological Literacy: learning tour profile — September 2008 version
are human made, and the curriculum does not cover that part of the world. A lot of the
things we teach in science now are important but not that relevant to day-to-day life.”
These highlights are intended as a guide for future visitors who want to learn from the
work of this organization.
Technology and engineering resources:
This ( is a searchable
database of “the best standards-based technology and engineering curriculum resources”
for the classroom. All the resources included in the database have undergone an extensive
review overseen by NCTL staff.
The review, which is conducted by classroom teachers, evaluates resources on the basis
of their alignment to the National Standards for Technological Literacy, the types of
student activities included, opportunities for student assessment, supporting materials for
teachers, the materials required in terms of budget, and classroom time management.
Engineering is Elementary—These booklets provide students in grades 1–5 the
opportunity to apply elementary science topics in a design challenge. The booklets are
written in Spanish and English and are aligned to the National Standards for
Technological Literacy. Each booklet includes a storybook, lesson plans, duplication
masters, assessments, and additional background information for teachers. For
convenience, the units come with materials kits as well.
Each booklet was reviewed by experts in the field of engineering that the booklet focuses
on as well as by cultural consultants for accuracy of context. These resources are
currently used by 203 districts across the country, representing 39 states and the District
of Columbia.
NCTL has also produced Engineering the Future: Science, Technology, and the Design
Process, a course for grades 9–12, and Building Math, a course for grades 6–8.
Who is the National Center for Technological Literacy?
“Engineering is understanding how the human-made world is made. So it offers a
wonderful way for teachers to integrate all the other disciplines,” said Dr. Miaoulis. The
overarching goal of NCTL is to provide students with an opportunity to learn science and
mathematics through the application of the engineering design process, an iterative
process that includes asking, imagining, planning, creating, improving, asking,
imagining, and so on.
In pursuit of this goal, the Center’s staff work in Washington, D.C., to inform and
influence legislation that affects the policies and funding surrounding technology and
engineering education. NCTL has been highly successful in influencing technology
standards adoption in Massachusetts and other states.
National Center for Technological Literacy: learning tour profile — September 2008 version
The inclusion of the engineering design process in mathematics and science education,
the adoption of technology standards in K–12 education, and the integration of
mathematics and science curricula are all early results of NCTL’s work. Videos showing
students involved with integrated projects are available at
In addition to Director Miaoulis, who also serves as president of the Museum of Science,
NCTL staff include Dr. Yvonne M. Spicer, vice president of advocacy and educational
partnerships; Kate E. Hester, content development director; and Rich Blumenthal, senior
vice president/publisher. The staff bring a variety of backgrounds, including experience
in K–12 teaching, higher education, and state leadership, to the Center’s work.
Funding sources:
Major supporters of NCTL include Cisco Systems, Inc., the Intel Foundation, the
Lockheed Martin Foundation, and the GE Foundation.
National Center for Technological Literacy: learning tour profile — September 2008 version