Why create hands-on STEM activities for families?

Families play a critical role in children’s learning and interests. Literature suggests that caregiver involvement in children’s early childhood education has positive benefits for both caregivers and children, including an increased positive caregiver affiliation with school, improved caregiver/child relationship, improved student academic performance, and longer persistence of academic gains.1

Furthermore, “For young children, the most important community is their family. Learning communities strive for genuine family engagement by recognizing that teachers who tie community-based participation in the curriculum extend their child’s learning far beyond the classroom.”2 The 2017 Early STEM Matters report further recommends “Establish[ing] initiatives, resources, and supports that promote parents’ and families’ involvement and engagement in their young children’s STEM education.”3

As early adopters of research validating the critical role of families, we made it a priority to include outreach to caregivers and families as part of our in-school curricula. This ultimately led to the development of the EiE Families program which focuses specifically on creating high quality STEM learning experiences for families.

Preliminary evidence suggests EiE Families is effective

Like all of our products, the EiE Families resources went through multiple rounds of research, development, testing, and improvement. Results of formative and summative data collection suggest that activities supported families’ understanding of engineering as a discipline and positively impacted perceptions of themselves as engineers. Families also agreed that these activities inspired them to have conversations about engineering and the human-made world.

We are always looking for families and educators from across the country to test new activities and provide us with feedback! If you’d be interested in playing an important role in our process, sign up to review materials as we develop them.

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Bar chart that shows how parents confidence in working on engineering with their children increased after doing Engineering at Home activities.

Families Agreement Before and After Engaging with Engineering At-Home Activities. Blue dashed bars show agreement before doing activity and green bars after doing activity. 71% of families understood what engineers do before the activity, 98% after. 55% felt confident talking about engineering with their kids beforehand, 95% afterwards. 48% of children believed they could engineer beforehand, 90% after the activity. Beforehand, 48% of families felt confident solving engineering problems together, and afterwards 93% did.


Chart that shows after doing Engineering at Home projects, more that 80% of families felt inspired to do more engineering.

Families Agreement with Statements After Engaging with Engineering At-Home Activities. After doing Engineering At Home projects, 88% agreed with the statement “I felt like we were engineering while doing the activity as a family.” 83% said “The activity inspired us to have conversations as a family about engineering or the human-made world.” And 83% agreed that “This activity inspired us to look for more engineering projects to do at home.”


Coming soon! EiE conducts a large-scale national study of our EiE Families resources. 

During the 2022/23 academic year, with generous funding from Overdeck Family Foundation and in collaboration with the Harvard Strategic Data Project, we’ll will be running a rigorous, Tier 1 ESSA-aligned evaluation of our EiE Families Engineering At-home resources. Our researchers will be recruiting 100 educators and 350+ families to try EiE Families activities at home with their children. The team is measuring the following outcomes:

  • Students’ and families’ excitement about STEM
  • Students’ and families’ sense that they can engineer
  • Students’ knowledge of engineering
  • Families’ connections to their schools

Check this page for results in spring 2023!


  1. Barnard, W. M. (2004). Parent involvement in elementary school and educational attainment. Children and youth services review, 26(1), 39-62.

    Evangelou, M., & Sylva, K. (2003). The effects of the Peers Early Education Partnership (PEEP) on children’s developmental progress.

    Hill, N. E., & Tyson, D. F. (2009). Parental involvement in middle school: a meta-analytic assessment of the strategies that promote achievement. Developmental psychology, 45(3), 740.

  2. Morrison, J. W., Storey, P., & Zhang, C. (2015). Accessible family involvement in early childhood programs. Creating a Nature-Inspired Outdoor Learning Environment for Urban Spaces.

  3. Early Childhood STEM Working Group. (2017). Early STEM matters: Providing high-quality STEM experiences for all young learners. Policy Report.