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NCTL and the Museum of Science

The Museum of Science launched the National Center for Technological Literacy. President emeritus Ioannis Miaoulis envisioned introducing engineering in both museums and Pre-K–12 classrooms as the key to 21st century scientific and technological literacy and innovation. At the time, this idea was practically unheard of. The efforts and advocacy of the NCTL informed and supported the many exciting technological and engineering developments to follow.

In the same year, the Museum published Engineering is Elementary® in Massachusetts—the first-ever engineering curriculum for elementary school children. The NCTL also began championing Pre-K–12 engineering education to Congress, school superintendents, and CEOs. Advocacy for technological and engineering literacy (TEL) became the Museum’s mandate, transforming New England’s most-attended cultural institution into a leader in national and international STEM education and policy. These efforts included the Gateway Project, which hosted training institutes for educators to assist in the process of implementing rigorous technology- and engineering-based curricula in their school districts.

Since 2003, the NCTL has influenced the writing of US engineering education bills, leveraged its work in Massachusetts to help other states develop engineering education frameworks, and worked with the STEM industry to elevate TEL in the public eye. Today, thanks in large part to the advocacy efforts of the NCTL, the Museum boasts a range of engineering curricula designed for Pre-K–12 classrooms and out-of-school settings across the US and internationally.

The Museum has also focused on exhibits and programs that promote technological and engineering literacy. In 2005, the Museum joined with other institutions to form the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net), which engages the public in learning about nanoscale science and engineering. Star Wars®: Where Science Meets Imagination, created in 2005 through a unique partnership with Lucasfilm, Ltd., compared the technologies of the fictional Star Wars universe with real-world counterparts; it traveled worldwide for ten years. The Science Behind Pixar, an exhibit that revealed the complexities of computer science in animation, is now touring internationally. Design Challenges—which emphasizes the engineering design process—was born in 2003. The Yawkey Gallery on the Charles River, which opened in 2016, capitalizes on the Museum’s unique river location by connecting two Museum wings with the natural and engineered worlds. These exhibits and programs help the Museum showcase technological and engineering literacy in Boston and all over the world.