- Use Learning Centers to Engage Children In STEM
- Integrate STEM Vocabulary
- Guide Children to Reflect on New Understandings
- Try It
- Wrap Up
- academic language: words about specific topics and subjects that children must learn in order to be successful in school
- engineering: the process of designing tools, systems, and structures that help humans meet their needs or solve problems
- mathematics: the study of quantities (how many or how much), structures (shapes), space (angles and distances), and change
- open-ended questions: questions that require critical thinking, invite opinion or explanation, and result in more than a one-word answer
- science: the process of finding out about the world and how it works by exploring, gathering data, looking for relationships and patterns, and generating explanations and ideas using evidence
- STEM: an interdisciplinary approach to learning where students learn and apply concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
- STEM vocabulary: words that relate to the processes of science, technology, engineering, and math (e.g., categorize, change, classify, collaborate, communicate, compare, construct, count, describe, design, discover, discuss, draw, experiment, explain, graph, identify, investigate, listen, measure, notice, observe, plan, predict, problem-solve, question, record, share, sort, use senses, watch)
- technology: the tools that have been designed to meet human needs, such as balance scales to compare weights, lenses to look closely at living things, and digital tools like computers and tablets
Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.
STEM teaching is an interdisciplinary approach to learning where students learn and apply concepts in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. By their very nature, early childhood settings are primed to support STEM learning. Consider the definitions of each discipline:
Science: The process of finding out about the world and how it works by exploring, gathering data, looking for relationships and patterns, and generating explanations and ideas using evidence.
Technology: The tools that have been designed to meet human needs such as balance scales to compare weights, lenses to look closely at living things, and digital tools like computers and tablets.
Engineering: The process of designing tools, systems, and structures that help humans meet their needs or solve problems.
Mathematics: The study of quantities (how many or how much), structures (shapes), space (angles and distances), and change.
Simply watching children will confirm the fact that their play at various learning centers integrates subject matter from these disciplines every day. As they explore with their minds and with their senses, they are observing, asking questions, designing, building, testing, and solving problems.
At different times, children may engage with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics separately or in combination. For example, when a child builds a tower with blocks, he or she acts as an engineer as he or she tries to make a tall, yet stable structure. That child also takes on the disposition of a scientist when he or she explores how blocks of different materials, shapes, and textures affect the strength and stability of the tower. That child might also use mathematics and technology as he or she uses tools to measure the heights of the towers.
In this 45-minute, self-paced tutorial, you will explore best for teaching STEM to young children. Three short videos will show seasoned educators using best practices in action. After watching each video, you’ll review and reflect on what you’ve seen and heard.
During this tutorial, you will:
- Explore the best practices for engaging children in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
- Learn how to plan activities that invite children to observe, explore, investigate, problem-solve, experiment, and design.
- Explore ways to integrate STEM language throughout the day to help children think and act like scientists.
- Examine strategies to help children reflect on new understandings.
- Apply new knowledge to current practices.
First, do a self-assessment to discover what your strengths are and to identify specific skills you'd like to work on.
- Download and print the Self-Assessment (PDF).
- Complete the first half now, before you begin the training.
- Save the sheet with your answers. At the end of the training, you'll complete the second half, compare your "before" and "after" responses, and find out how far you've progressed.
Watch an overview of Engaging Children in STEM featuring Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Associate Professor of Education at Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Download and print the Learning Log (PDF). Use it during the tutorial to answer questions, reflect upon the materials presented, and jot down ideas and insights about how to apply what you have learned to your own learning environment.