Advances in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (Based on work from the Boston Children’s Museum)
What is STEM- STEM is an acronym.
It was used originally by the US government to describe fields of study that helped immigrants get work visas: science, technology, engineering, and math.
Today, educators are linking these areas together in what is called STEM curriculum.
STEM is Everyday in Preschool-When we break down the acronym into its parts; we see that early childhood programs practice STEM activities every day.
Young children are natural scientists, investigators and wonderers.
They are constantly exploring their world as from these three aspects.
SCIENCE-Science activities include exploring water and sand, comparing and contrasting natural materials like rocks and soil, rolling balls across the room, and looking through a magnifying glass to count how many legs are on the bug that was caught during outdoor play.
TECHNOLOGY-Technology activities include computers, but also identifying simple machines like gears and wheels and pulleys. Even household tools in the kitchen or workshop are a part of technology. Digital cameras are used to record their explorations.
ENGINEERING-Engineering in preschool happens in the block area. There children are planning and designing structures every day with little teacher direction. Children explore the concepts of balance and symmetry as they try to build a tower.
MATH-Math activities include counting and matching shapes and making patterns. They also include sorting and classifying, seriating and sequencing.Measuring is easy too, especially with unit blocks where two of one size equal one of the next size up.
Parents and Teachers-As a parent and a preschool educator, you can expand kids’ science learning and lead them toward discovery by encouraging their natural curiosity.
You can notice what they are doing during play with water, shadow, or sand; and asking the right questions.
Questions are KEY to STEM!
Open-Ended Questions are KEY-You can get involved by asking children open- ended questions:
• “Tell me about what you are working on now.”
• “What do you notice about how it’s moving?”
• “What else have you seen other kids try?”
• “How many ways can you….?”
Write it Down!
• Just asking questions is not enough.
• It is important to validate children’s thinking by writing down their thoughts and ideas.
• This is a good way to document their growth in STEM curriculum to share with their parents.
Brain Building with STEM
• Like the construction of a home, the building process of the brain begins with laying the foundation, framing the rooms, and wiring the electrical system in a predictable sequence.
• Early experiences literally shape how the brain gets built.
• Hands-on experiences with real materials build brains.
Brain Building in Preschool
• In an environment intentionally designed to provide brain-building experiences for children is creative, open-ended and exploratory.
• The teacher’s role is to be on the sidelines offering support when needed to help children develop new skills and facilitating interplay between children and the environment.
Brain and Science-Science is a way of thinking.
• Science is observing and experimenting, making predictions, sharing discoveries, asking questions, and wondering how things work.
Brain and Technology-Technology is a way of doing.
• Technology is using tools, being inventive, identifying problems, and making things work.
• Technology is creating tools too!
Brain and Engineering-Engineering is a way of doing.
• Engineering is solving problems
• Using a variety of materials, designing and creating, and building things that work.
Brain and Math-Math is a way of measuring.
• Sequencing (1, 2, 3, 4…)
• Patterning (1, 2, 1, 2, 1, 2…)
• Exploring shapes (triangle, square, circle)
• Volume (holds more or less), and size (bigger, less than).
Inspiring children to be thinkers!
• What does STEM do?
• It inspires children to Love to Learn, to be thinkers and problem solvers.
• It prepares children for a future we can never fully predict.
• AND… it supports children in discovering the joy of working with others.