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59 | Engineering & Empathy | with Melissa Higgins & Michelle Cerrone

What do engineering and empathy have to do with each other and how we learn? 

That’s the question we’re going to address in today’s episode with Melissa Higgins, who is the Senior Director of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) at the Boston Children’s Museum. Melissa loves to create exciting hands-on, minds-on STEAM challenges that inspire children and educators to engage and enjoy STEAM learning, and she has some great insight into how kids learn and how we all think that are invaluable for educators of all kinds.

Joining Melissa is Michelle Cerrone, a Senior Research Associate at the Education Development Center, where she leads research studies and evaluations that deepen the understanding of how to harness media and digital technologies to enhance education. Michelle also co-leads a National Science Foundation study investigating the design and implementation of engineering and empathy activities in early childhood settings, and that investigation is what we’re really jazzed to be talking about today.

We unbox:

  1. The mission and vision of the Boston Children’s Museum & the Education Development Center

  2. Equity in education

  3. The origins of this investigation around engineering and empathy

  4. Their design-based research approach to this study

  5. Creating a roadmap for other educators

  6. Collaborating with educators to come up with solutions

  7. Educators are consistently addressing empathy, but they don’t have specific or consistent strategies for teaching it or a common language around it

  8. How they defined empathy for this project

  9. Many teachers are already using the principles of engineering — they just don’t know it

  10. Teaching in a virtual environment


  1. Boston Children’s Museum:

  2. Education Development Center:

  3. Read the abstract: “Design and Development: Engineering and Empathy Pre-K/K”


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