Preparing for STEM Education

There is a lot of buzz right now about STEM schools. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are given high priority at these schools. I think it is the current evolution of concentrating on science and math (which has been a focus of discussion for the 35+ years I have been in education).

Because of modern advancements, technology and engineering have also been given a seat at the same table. As I was reading an article recently about STEM in preschool (Stem Comes to Preschool, Exploring Science: Spotlight on Young Children. 2013, NAEYC), I again was convinced that the critical thinking support we offer to young children is essential for them to be successful in STEM educational programs. Children are naturally interested in science and technology. With the right type of materials and support, their interest in constructing and engineering will also be evident. I have found from my years of teaching, that children are usually interested in mathematical principles at an early age.

But, for some reason, math becomes a negative and unsuccessful experience for many people. Unsuccessful experiences can come in any of these four areas if a child is not given strong support during the early childhood years. At the conclusion of the article mentioned above, the author states, “…regardless of ability, young children are ready, willing, and able to engage in STEM activities.” The key factor here, however, is making sure the teachers are ready with appropriate teaching techniques and materials.

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your comments and insight in the comments section below.

 

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2 responses

  1. I’m a professor of chemistry. I also do a lot of volunteering with little ones (Boys+Girls club, toddler Sunday school class etc.) providing science activities. Young children LOVE STEM activities. However, many of the ECE majors I encounter as a faculty member have a strong dislike or even fear of STEM. I often wonder how this attitude towards STEM will affect the children they will teach. I also wonder what I can do as a scientist to support STEM in the early years and to support teachers. Unfortunately, there’s a large gap between ECE teachers and scientists. Science outreach is rarely at the preschool level. ECE teachers doubt that scientist have the background to be able to connect with young children.

  2. In understand your point completely. I agree it is an issue. It is sad, because young children are so in tune with science. They really are curious about how the world works. We see a similar problem with teachers and math. Working at the university I can’t tell you how many times I hear my student say, “I have always struggled with math.” or “I don’t like math.” I am concerned with sending a teacher into a classroom of young children with that attitude. It certainly seems to perpetuate over and over again. I think we will see a lot more trainings and materials for science, math, and technology for teachers of young children. But, I agree with you that we really need to work on the attitude, as well.

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