STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. It is the focus of current pedagogies and curriculum because ability in these subjects has been linked with long -term impact on future academic skills and job acquisition. There will be many more jobs in STEM areas in the future.. Just think of how many innovative technologies and inventions that we have seen just this year (self driving google cars, gps trackable keyrings, sensors for your waterbottle!). We early childhood educators have an important role in starting STEM learning and a love of STEM early!
Because teaching preschool aged students is a very special profession, we have a responsibility to teach STEM in a way that is meaningful for young children. That is our job - to create learning opportunities that are drenched in play, hands on manipulation, exploration and also making sure we listen to our students’ questions and ideas. We do our best to inject early numeracy and science into our plans...We have thought of every way to count objects, pattern with pom poms, and order rocks in size order. We have set up nature walks, science exploration tables and will have conducted a zilllion ‘Does it float or sink’ activities by the end of our career…. !
But here are some ideas for making STEM education really count in early childhood education. Because there are other skills we need to encourage children to develop, such as problem solving, making hypotheses (guesses as to what will happen next’) and documenting.
- SET CHALLENGES for awesome problem solving!
2. RECORD, DOCUMENT AND REFLECT... EVEN IF CHILDREN CAN'T WRITE YET
It doesn't matter if your students are still developing their literacy skills. We can give our students lots of opportunities to engage with reading materials, letters and writing tools so that they can practise and play with the components of reading and writing. For example, giving a child a clip board and pencil for note taking helps them feel that their pre-writing 'notes' are important. Teachers' questions after an activity can also help young children reflect on the order and sequence of steps, which is an important precursor for writing.
Using photos to document STEM activities is another helpful way you can help students reflect on their learning and what they found out. Photo documentation is also helpful for you when planning future activities.
3. Try STEAM !
STEAM is the addition of ART into STEM activities.. we all know that children's creativity is a vital element of their early learning. We are also influenced by the Reggio Emilia perspective that children have "one hundred languages", meaning that there are so many ways a child can express their thinking and wondering, than just words..
Go forth and teach STEM!!