What is STEM?
According to Dr. Sherri Killins, “What STEM does is give a label to what you are already doing… helping children to explore, observe, ask questions, predict, integrate their learning… its what we’ve always done in early childhood education.”
The Distinction between Academic Learning and Intellectual Learning
Dr. Lilian Katz says, “It is important to know the distinction between academic learning and intellectual learning…. and most people don’t get that.”
Academic learning ”by definition is the stuff that is clear like the alphabet, it’s not logic, it just has to be memorized… and it does have to be learned eventually.” (Lilian Katz)
Intellectual Learning ”has to do with reasoning, hypothesizing, and predicting, theorizing, and so forth and that’s natural.” (Lilian Katz)
“You want children to learn their academic skills in the service of their intellect so when they come and say, show me how to measure this or show me how to write that because they are doing an investigation – which is an intellectually based activity and it comes so naturally to all children.” (Lilian Katz)
The importance of play
“There are no greater natural scientists and engineers then young children. Inquisitive learners who learn STEM concepts through play. High quality early learning environments provide children with the structure in which to build upon their natural inclination to explore, to build, and to question.” Once again it comes down to letting the children play! (JD Chesloff shared by Rae Pica in ”What, Teaching STEM in Preschool, Really?“)
The benefits of STEM
The link between early childhood and STEM is indisputable. Early exposure to STEM – whether it be in school, at a museum, a library, or just engaging in the natural trial and error of play – supports children’s overall academic growth, develops early critical thinking and reasoning skills, and enhances later interest in STEM study and careers. (JD Chesloff in Sparking a Child’s Interest in Science and Technology.”
This info came from teachpreschool.org
A few examples of this in my classroom...
Science: Planting seeds, mixing materials together to make a change, rolling objects down a ramp, sorting rocks, shells, seeds and other natural materials by color or shape, and touching objects with a magnet to test for attraction to the magnet, all the while recording, reflecting and thinking about what happened.
Technology: Computers yes, but also using other tools such as flashlights, digital cameras and video cameras.
Math: Counting and matching shapes, estimation station, and making patterns.
Engineering: Invention box, cup stacking and in the block area children are planning and designing structures every day with little teacher direction.