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Through My Window

Look at Engineering Education Through a New Window

Connected Science Learning July-September 2018 (Volume 1, Issue 7)

By Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh, and Isabel Huff

Through My Window

Through My Window is multimedia curriculum for grades 4–8 that integrates engineering, technology, literacy, and the arts.



Through My Window introduced our students to engineering. It not only broadened their understanding, but hooked them into wanting more!

—Maureen Beeltje, District Educational Technologist, Frontier Regional School District, Massachusetts

Through My Window is multimedia curriculum for grades 4–8 that integrates engineering, technology, literacy, and the arts. Adaptable for a range of educational settings, Through My Window has captured the imaginations of children and young teens in English, science, and technology/engineering classes, as well as summer and after-school programs.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, Through My Window offers three free components:

  1. STEM mystery novel, Talk to Me. Written by a female engineer, Talk to Me is available in e-reader and audio formats, as well as in paperback (at substantial discounts to educators and schools). The novel introduces engineering themes—artificial intelligence, engineering design, and engineering ethics—through story. In Talk to Me, seven-year-old Maddie Reyes has selective mutism and only talks to her parents; her sister, Sadina; and her robotic cat, Bella. After seeing an intruder in the house, Maddie becomes the only one who can identify him—but she’s petrified to talk to anyone. Maddie’s friends unite to transform Bella into Chattercat, a talking robot that just might get answers from Maddie.
  2. Online learning adventures. Free, interactive modules pull learners into deep exploration of engineering themes with the Talk to Me characters. The first adventure, Rio’s Brain, is about artificial intelligence. After an accident, Rio discovers researchers have removed his brain and plan to destroy it. Learners search a mysterious mansion and determine whether it is possible to create an artificial brain for Rio. The second adventure, Trapped in Time, is about the Next Generation Science Standards–aligned engineering design cycle. Learners join the characters as they time-travel to learn about engineering design, fix the past, and save the future.
  3. Offline enrichment activities. Tied to the novel and online learning adventures, offline activities allow for further engineering investigation and crosscurricular connections. Topics include programming basics, the ethics and design of robot caretakers for the elderly, facial recognition, and more.

Through My Window’s “ideas-on” activities were great for getting kids engaged and energized about an issue or problem.

—Kevin Brenner, fourth-grade teacher, Canterbury School, North Carolina

Formal and informal educators alike find that Through My Window engages all learners in ways that foster deep learning, broadened perspectives, and development of STEM identity. In particular, Through My Window‘s approach is more inclusive and appealing to girls than traditional curricula.

The story-based learning adventures have my students asking sophisticated questions about engineering, robotics, and the nature of intelligence—perfect for our interdisciplinary STEM focus!

—Lauren Binger, seventh-grade STEM teacher at Mohawk Regional School, Massachusetts

It engaged [students] in ways I had never imagined were possible—in the summer. For an educator, that’s the most amazing thing—to see children learning and having fun while they do it.

—Laurie Giff, After-school Site Coordinator for The Lighthouse Program in Bridgeport, Connecticut

For more information, visit the Through My Window website. Project Outreach Coordinator Isabel Huff also provides educator support and customized lesson plans; you can contact her at


Beth McGinnis-Cavanaugh ( is co–principal investigator for Through My Window in Springfield, Massachusetts. Isabel Huff ( is Through My Window project outreach coordinator in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Informal Education

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