STEM in Early Learning
It seems that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) learning is everywhere, from articles on the web to your children’s own classrooms. The research shows that STEM studies can attribute to better problem solving and communication skills. Even the U.S. Department of Education stresses the need for all students have accessible STEM education, with their goal that “All young people should be prepared to think deeply and to think well so that they have the chance to become the innovators, educators, researchers, and leaders who can solve the most pressing challenges facing our nation and our world, both today and tomorrow.”.
But can STEM education be applicable to our youngest of learners? According to a New America article (here) informal science education should be lifelong learning that can start in early learning children.
Wonders Early Learning hosts a multitude of opportunities for our children to engage in informal science education. Most recently the Dolphins, one of our pre-K classrooms, investigated the science of sinking and floating. The children predicted which items in their classroom they thought would sink or float, and tried to explain the reasoning behind their predictions. They then tested their predictions. Because of the children’s interest level, this topic was extended into exploring different types of boats.
For each topic of study, the class writes together a KWL chart, in which K stands for “What do we already know?”; the W is for “What do we want to learn?”; and the L is for “What have we learned?” Regarding the boats, many of the class’ questions revolved around how sail boats work as compared to motor boats. They wanted to learn more about what sails and anchors do. One example of a child’s question for the KWL chart was: “Why to do boats go down to the bottom of the water when they break?” Another was, “How can boats sink if they have sails on them?” The Dolphins created their own little “sail boats” with corks, sticks and paper. They had to experiment with different configurations to figure out how to make them stay afloat and they had to figure out how to create wind to get them to sail in the water table. Children started to think more critically as they explored the concept of sink or float which led to a children led experiments.
Got any other fun STEM learning ideas? Tell us in the comments below.