'Today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It's time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and work to restore America's place as the world leader in science and technology.' -- President Barack Obama
STEPS with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Program
Classroom science provides the opportunity for children to extend their natural curiosity and building of theories. As stated by Karen Worth and Sharon Grollman, “It provides children with direct experience with materials, events, and ideas that are important to later learning. When children engage in science exploration in the early childhood classroom, they are doing science inquiry. Science is important for early childhood classrooms because it encourages all children to engage with the content and thinking of science. With more parents working, hands-on exploration is less likely to occur in the home. More and more, it is the early childhood classroom where early experience with the natural word must take place. All children need many opportunities to be curious, follow up on their curiosity, make sense of their world, and build a foundation for understanding basic science concepts.” The purpose of the STEPS with STEM Program is to create science programs in early childhood classrooms that provide meaningful context in which early reading, mathematics, social skill, and inquiry-based science can be learned best.
Utilizing The Young Scientist Series curriculum as a foundation, we work with select early childhood programs to ensure children’s play and ideas about science are focused, deepened, and challenged. Through focused professional development offerings and on-site mentoring, we work closely with early childhood educators to increase knowledge and skills on how to incorporate science and math into daily programs. Children’s exploration and use of inquiry is promoted by preparing the physical environment, establishing routines and schedules that support “opened” and “focused” exploration. Participating programs will be able to identify and compile an inventory of the materials necessary for exploration; plan and document how to set up the classroom; and utilize the Science Teaching and Environment Rating Scale Observation and Interview Record (STERS) developed by Education Development Center to evaluate implementation.