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Our Team

A talented, award-winning team that brings over 100 years of experience developing preK-12 engineering education materials works together to create YES resources.

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Dr. Christine M. Cunningham
Founding Director

Christine has worked for three decades to make engineering and science more equitable, especially for populations underrepresented and underserved in STEM. She does this through research and the development of curricula and professional learning resources for preK-8 students and their educators. Previously, she was the founding director of Engineering is Elementary for 16 years. Christine currently serves as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for the National Assessment of Educational Progress. She is a fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education and has received numerous awards. In 2017, her work was recognized with the prestigious Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. Christine holds joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology from Yale University and a doctorate in education from Cornell University.

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Dr. Chantal Balesdent
K-12 Engineering Education Manager

Chantal’s work aims to increase educators’ confidence in teaching engineering with children across the country. Chantal became interested in STEM professional learning as a National Science Foundation GK-12 fellow through her experiences teaching science to rural elementary students and working with their teachers. She spent six years developing resources and facilitating workshops for hundreds of educators as part of Engineering is Elementary. Chantal earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Colby College and a master’s degree and doctorate in chemistry from the University of Oregon.

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Cynthia Berger
Communications Manager

Cynthia is an award-winning writer whose work supports the mission of science-focused nonprofits and research universities. Her experience crosses media platforms and includes stints as a magazine editor at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, as a public radio reporter, and in public relations for Engineering is Elementary at the Museum of Science, Boston, and Penn State; she is also the author of four books and the copilot of a solar-powered canal boat. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and a master’s degree from the University of New Hampshire.

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Martha Davis
Senior Curriculum Developer

Throughout her career, Martha has sought out opportunities to help learners recognize and pursue their individual talents. Martha’s first job was as a research assistant for Howard Gardner as he developed the theory of multiple intelligences at Harvard. A strong focus on individual differences and modes of expression has defined her work ever since. She spent several years as an elementary specialist at the Needham Science Center and a decade as a research associate and science curriculum writer at Education Development Center in Newton, Massachusetts. Most recently, Martha served as director of curriculum at Engineering is Elementary. Martha earned her bachelor’s degree from the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study at Tufts.

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Marisa Garcia
Senior Curriculum Developer

Marisa has spent her career working to foster and support a life-long love of learning. Her passion for STEM began when Marisa served as a pilot teacher for an early childhood robotics curriculum. Since then, Marisa has served as a curriculum developer for many curricula, including as a senior curriculum developer at Engineering is Elementary. Marisa also works as an independent education consultant and is a senior program developer with the National Girls Collaborative Project. Marisa holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and humanities from Wheelock College and a master’s degree in elementary education from the Boston Teacher Residency and University of Massachusetts, Boston.

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Dr. Stacy Gardner
Lead Engineer and Director of Partnerships

Stacy’s work in prek-12 STEM education focuses on teacher professional development and increasing interest in and participation by females and underrepresented minorities. Stacy is the co-PI and co-director of the Engineering For US All (e4usa) project — funded by the National Science Foundation — which is democratizing the learning and practice of engineering by engaging high school students and their teachers to think and solve problems like engineers. Stacy served as a senior professional development manager at Engineering is Elementary for one and a half years and taught high school for more than 20 years. Stacy received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering from Duke University, her master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Drexel University, and her doctorate in biomedical engineering from Vanderbilt University. She is an adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University, and is a fellow in the American Society for Engineering Education.

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Dr. Gregory Kelly
Senior Associate Dean for Research and Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Penn State

Greg’s research investigates classroom discourse, epistemology, and science learning. Recent work examines epistemic practices in science and engineering education. Greg is a member of the National Academy of Education. He has received a number of research awards including the Dr. John J. Gumperz Memorial Award for Distinguished Lifetime Scholarship from the American Educational Research Association and the 2021 Distinguished Contributions to Science Education through Research Award from NARST. Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from the State University of New York at Albany and a doctorate in education from Cornell University.

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Dr. Cathy Lachapelle
Senior Research and Evaluation Associate

Cathy specializes in formative and summative evaluation efforts, as well as curriculum development, research, and grant proposal writing for preK-12 STEM curriculum design projects. For 15 years, she was the director of research and evaluation for Engineering is Elementary. Cathy is particularly interested in how students learn science, engineering, and mathematics through collaborative interaction and through scaffolded experiences engaging in disciplinary practices, and how to design effective learning environments and activities for student and teacher STEM learning. She received her bachelor’s degree in cognitive science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and her doctorate in psychological studies in education from Stanford University.

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Katy Laguzza
Senior Curriculum Developer

Katy is a curriculum developer, educator, and professional development provider with an interest in accessibility and equity. Previously, Katy worked as manager of two Engineering is Elementary curriculum projects designed to foster an engineering mindset in preschool and kindergarten learners. Katy received a master’s degree in elementary STEM education from Tufts University and a bachelor’s degree in puppet arts and human rights from the University of Connecticut.

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Shannon McManus
Senior Professional Learning Developer

Shannon is an educator who strives to provide accessible and meaningful learning experiences for children and adults. She taught high school physics and integrated science for eight years. She has designed and facilitated STEM professional development opportunities for youth workers and teachers serving students K-12 for over nine years and served as the director of professional development at Engineering is Elementary. Shannon also works as an independent education consultant and as an adjunct assistant clinical faculty in the Institute for Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame. She received a bachelor’s degree in physics education from University of Delaware and a master’s degree in environmental science and management from University of Rhode Island.

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Natacha Meyer
Senior Curriculum Developer

Natacha has dedicated her career to developing STEM curricula that empower youth and educators. She has served as a middle school science educator, learning specialist, and English learner instructor and administrator. Most recently, she worked on Engineering is Elementary as a project manager and senior curriculum developer. Natacha holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Brown University and master’s degree in education from Stanford University.

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Dr. Darshita (Dipa) Shah
Curriculum Director

Dipa has spent her career grappling with the challenge of how to best design motivating and engaging curriculum materials for students across the K-16 spectrum that can be practically implemented across the rich variety of our nation’s educational contexts. Most recently, Dipa was the senior associate director with MIT’s Teaching and Learning Lab where she facilitated workshops for campus educators on how to design curricular materials, implement evidence-informed pedagogies, and create welcoming classroom environments. Previously, Dipa was a manager for curriculum development for Engineering is Elementary and a lead science instructor with the Discovery Museum. Dipa received a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State University and a doctorate in chemical and biological engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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Richard Sutton
Multimedia and Research Specialist

Richard’s love of hands-on science and engineering drives his work. He enjoys working with development teams to create multimedia resources, such as video, that highlight the opportunities that engaging science and engineering activities afford to youth and their educators. Richard began his career at the Museum of Science in Boston where he worked with Engineering is Elementary to support the development and research of preK-8 engineering challenges. His work included shooting, editing, and producing video from classrooms nationwide. Most recently, he has worked at the Needham Science Center, supporting the development and implementation of school-based and remote learning. Richard received an associate’s degree from Cape Cod Community College.

Graphics, Illustration, and Design Consultants:

  • Hannah Daigle
  • Dillian McGahey
  • Corey Niemann
  • Ross Sullivan Wiley



Youth Engineering Solutions educates the next generation of problem solvers and engineers by developing equitable, research-based, and classroom-tested preK-8 engineering and STEM curricula; preparing and empowering educators to teach engineering; and conducting rigorous research that informs K-12 engineering education.

Youth Engineering Solutions (YES)

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802