STEM Practices and Content are Embraced at The Learning Station in Dominican RepublicBy Diana Wehrell-Grabowski on September 21, 2015 in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education
About a year ago I was contacted by a young entrepreneur Virginia, owner of The Learning Station, a private early childhood school in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Virginia, like many of the individuals who contact me was inquiring about the possibility of attending one of my science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher training sessions conducted throughout the U.S. and world. The Learning Station had begun to introduce STEM practices and content during the 2014-2015 school year and were looking to further expand their STEM curriculum. After several email communications, we both decided it would be most beneficial for the school for me to travel to the Dominican Republic and provide STEM training to her staff of 12. One year later, and many email communications I arrived in the lovely city of Santo Domingo to spend two days conducting hands-on-minds-on STEM training at The Learning Station. Within the two days of training, teachers and aides were introduced to STEM practices and content. During the first day of training teachers were introduced to the foundational practices of STEM, including the Engineering Design Process, inquiry-based teaching practices, connecting children’s literature to STEM content, patterns and shapes in nature and in man-made designs, materials science, and reflective journaling in the early childhood classroom. We ventured outside to learn how to incorporate the school yard to incorporate STEM practices and content. I’m happy to say I’ve already been sent photos of children in the schoolyard exploring STEM practices and content such as collecting materials from nature to explore and build with, as well as using tools in the field. On the second day we further explored the Engineering Design Process, and reverse engineering. As usual, the two days went by too quickly, we all wished we had more time to spend together to explore STEM. Like all of my trainings, my primary goal is to have the teachers have a clearer understanding of what “real” STEM encompasses, as well as to truly embrace STEM practices. I was truly impressed with the eagerness of the entire staff, and their willingness to embrace STEM. School has only been in session for a couple of weeks at The Learning Station in Dominican Republic, and I’ve already received a handful of photos taken from STEM investigations incorporated within the first two weeks of school. I expect that STEM practices and content will continue to thrive at The Learning Station, Virginia is to be commended for being the first early childhood school in Dominican Republic to incorporate STEM practices and content at the early childhood level. I look forward to receiving photos of the STEM investigations the young children undertake throughout the year. I hope to return to Dominican Republic in the near future to share my passion and expertise of STEM with teachers. Feeling blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Virginia and her staff at The Learning Station. The following photos were taken during the two day training. I’ll be putting together a video with highlights of the training in the near future as well. For more information about the STEM and Science teacher training workshops and institutes I offer throughout the world, please contact me via the contact page.