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From Stumble to STEM: One Schools Journey to Explore STEM with its Youngest Students

by Carrie Lynne Draper and Susan Wood
January/February 2017
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/from-stumble-to-stem-one-schools-journey-to-explore-stem-with-its-youngest-students/5023361/

The Children’s Center at Caltech has been a STEM-focused early childhood center for infant, toddler, and preschool-aged children for more than 16 years. Our teaching staff enjoys sharing how our youngest students continually surprise us, building on and revising their knowledge and abilities as they crawl, stumble, and navigate their world. Many of our children arrive as infants and leave our program five years later to begin their kindergarten journey. Weekly, we share anecdotal stories of our young students’ cognitive and developmental milestones. The infants’ teacher marvels at former students’ growth, as their scientific, engineering, and mathematical knowledge matures as they move through the preschool program. 

When we made the decision two years ago to focus on the E in STEM, our goal was “to guide our children’s knowledge toward a more scientifically-based and coherent view of engineering” (NRC, 2012, p. 11). The integration of engineering is advocated by the Next Generation of Science Standards. Engineering provides a context for developing problem-solving skills and a context for the development of communication skills with real-world context for learning science and mathematics.

One of our first challenges was to educate our parents and ourselves. We are a children’s center located on the campus of one of ...

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