Within the last several years there has been a major emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. However, nationwide STEM education efforts rarely focus on children below third grade, and almost never below kindergarten. The reality is that more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) explorations can and should be implemented within early childhood through primary level classrooms. Children are naturally curious about the world around them so teachers and parents need to take advantage of the young child’s natural curiosity about the world around them and implement more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) explorations within the classroom and at home. It’s not a matter of investing in additional materials and curriculum to implement STEM education in the classroom, many of the materials required to conduct STEM education are already readily available within classrooms such as building blocks, sand and water wheels, toy cars, etc. When exploring science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) concepts within the early childhood classroom it’s important to teach STEM concepts that are personally meaningful, interesting and relevant to the young child. When implementing STEM education explorations within the classroom teachers may want to consider setting up the STEM explorations as centers. At each STEM center students can develop critical thinking skills via inquiry-based explorations. Teachers can initially conduct a classwide science STEM investigation to give the students a working model of how scientists conduct experiments. At the early childhood level this model may include:
- having the children identify a problem;
- children brainstorming a solution;
- children constructing a model;
- children testing and evaluating the design;
- children redesigning, and;
- children sharing their results with their classmates.
The following photos are from a recent hands-on inquiry-based early childhood STEM program I conducted at a local school. Each STEM concept was set up as a center, where a particular STEM concept or project was investigated. For the past several years I have been conducting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher training workshops nationwide for teachers of all grade-levels. During the STEM education teacher training workshops teachers conduct hands-on, inquiry-based explorations to investigate science, technology, engineering, and math concepts. For more detailed information about the teacher training workshops please visit the teacher training pages of this website.