STEM Investigations in the Early Childhood ClassroomBy Diana Wehrell-Grabowski on February 11, 2013 in Hands-On Science Explorations by Dr. Diana Wehrell-Grabowski, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education
STEM, the four letter acronym that is being spoken and written throughout the education community nation and worldwide makes perfect sense. One can see STEM practices in operation in many elementary through high school classrooms. To create a strong STEM foundation in our school systems the introduction of STEM practices and concepts should be introduced in the early childhood classrooms. Many early childhood teachers are introducing STEM concepts through block-building centers, water and sand tables, etc. For the past four years I have been providing hands-on-minds-on inquiry-based STEM teacher training workshops throughout the nation and world. Teachers are truly excited to incorporate STEM practices within their classroom. However, it does take some effort on the teachers part to “re-think” how and what they teach, and also designing lessons that are student-driven as opposed to teacher-driven. To keep in touch with what works in the actual classroom, I visit several schools every month and conduct hands-on science and STEM lessons to students. I can see what investigations work, and which investigations need tweaking. This past Friday I visited a local voluntary preschool classroom and presented STEM lessons to three different VPK classrooms, each STEM lesson was 45 minutes in length. Students visited a wide-variety of hands-on STEM centers where they explored STEM concepts via hands-on explorations. The children really enjoy STEM, it’s quite evident that implementing STEM practices in the classroom helps to develop and strengthen students’ innate curiosity about the world around them. The following photos are representative of hands-on STEM centers students explored. From using levels and tape measures at the block-building center to building ramps with simple materials, and exploring electricity concepts. STEM in the early childhood classroom makes definite sense for building a strong STEM foundation.