About the Project

Project partners

The EngrTEAMS project involved the University of Minnesota’s STEM Education Center as the Lead Partner. Core Partners were Purdue University, the Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power (CCEFP), and St. Paul Public Schools. Supporting Partners were North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale and South Washington County school districts, the University of Minnesota Youth & Community Programs, the Metropolitan Cooperative Service Unit (MetroECSU), and the Grants and Research Office (GRO) of Intermediate Districts 287 and Northeast Metro 916. The independent evaluator was the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI).

The University of Minnesota’s STEM Education Center, Purdue University's INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering, St. Paul Public Schools, and collaborators received an $8 million, five-year grant in 2013 from the National Science Foundation to increase science and math learning through engineering for students in fourth through eighth grades.  The center led the Engineering to Transform the Education of Analysis, Measurement, & Science (EngrTEAMS) project. EngrTEAMS was an engineering, design-based approach to teacher professional development to help teachers design curricular units for science topic areas within the Minnesota State Academic Science Standards, and with mapping to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). During each year of the project, up to 50 teachers were selected by their school districts to participate as EngrTEAMS Fellows. The project included summer professional development and curriculum writing workshops, paired with coaching, to allow Teacher Fellows to design an engineering curricular unit focused on science concepts, meaningful data analysis and measurement. Each unit went through an extensive design research cycle to ensure its quality and selected units were field tested and published online for use across the United States and beyond.


teacher fellows

Teachers who served as EngrTEAMS Teacher Fellows agreed to: (1) Participate in a pre-workshop interview and classroom observation, (2) Attend three weeks of summer training focused on engineering design, science content, and development of integrated curricula, (3) Develop an engineering unit based on MN Science Standards, (4) Conduct a preliminary pilot with students from UMN Youth & Community Programs, (5) Refine the curriculum unit and implement it with their students during the school year, (6) Participate in research and data collection, and (7) Submit the final curriculum unit for review, further editing, and possible publishing online. 

EngrTEAMS Fellows collaborated with researchers to provide data for four research studies conducted to assess the impact of using engineering design as pedagogy. The first research study investigated student achievement in mathematics and science, the second study focused on students’ critical thinking and justification skills, the third study focused on the effects of coaching on teachers’ classroom practices and beliefs about STEM integration, and the fourth study was a design study for the curricular materials developed by the Fellows.



The work of each EngrTEAMS Fellow was supported by a coach who was an active member of the curriculum development team. STEM Center Graduate Research Assistants (PhD students) served as EngrTEAMS coaches in the following two capacities: 
  • Assisted the Fellows to refine teaching practice and implement high quality integrated STEM pedagogy in the classroom. Coaching started during summer training and continued throughout the school year. Fellows were supported by coaches individually (scheduled by Fellow and Coach) as well as in group settings (4 meetings/year), to develop implementation strategies and work on changes for their curricula.
  • Guided the Fellows in completion of a comprehensive unit of teacher-tested, standards-based engineering content for grades 4-8 teachers. Researchers ensured that curricula is developmentally appropriate both in content and pedagogy and met all requirements for publication.
Each Teacher Fellow met their coach during the summer institute and worked with them throughout the academic year to complete project requirements.

field test teachers

During the final two years of the project, field test teams tested the quality of curriculum units for widespread use by educators other than the authors.  Field Test Teachers agreed to 1) attend four days of summer training with an in-depth focus on the content and structure of a selected integrated unit, 2) implement each lesson of the unit with fidelity, and 3) provide feedback on the efficacy of the unit in a variety of classroom environments.


teacher leaders

With a focus of sustainability of STEM Integration, STEM teacher leaders provided professional learning opportunities for teachers throughout their districts through district PD, professional learning communities, and coaching and will continue to do so after the conclusion of the project.

Teacher leaders attended three-days of professional development to refine their personal understanding of STEM integration and to learn ways to work with colleagues in their buildings to promote STEM as a grade level and building focus. They learned and practiced skills for leading learning conversation, implementing student work protocols and classroom coaching. They developed plans to work with grade level or building teams in their schools, guiding their colleagues’ learning around STEM and promoting the implementation of STEM in their schools.