Have you ever watched a child that is totally immersed in his or her play.
They try things one way and then another. They ponder. You can just hear the questions forming as they re-evaluate what they have done or make new plans for the play. This is the kind of thinking that supports the newest educational buzz word – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.)
NAEYC – the professional organization for early childhood professionals has this to say:
“From their earliest years, children engage with the world in ways that can promote learning related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They balance blocks to build a wall; bat at a mobile to make it spin; and push and pull magnets together and apart. Research shows that the earlier we guide and support children’s wonder about the world–and thereby identify opportunities for children to acquire foundational STEM skills–the more successful they are in all areas of learning later on.”
Community Playthings has created a series of videos about different aspects of early childhood classrooms. Their video on Building STEM Skills demonstrates the ideas beautifully.
As you can see from the the photos above, we incorporate STEM very easily into our toys, our routines, and our plans. I’m sure you do as well. We are also aware of the benefit of asking good probing questions to support their discoveries. “I wonder why that won’t stay on there.” “Hmmm, how do you think you could change it to make that work?”
STEM is part of our everyday experiences and we encourage even our youngest children to explore all these important concepts.