Title

Creativity, Communication, and Connections: Engaging in STEM with Young Children

First Presenter's Institution

Clemson University

Second Presenter's Institution

Clemson University

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Percival

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

This presentation connects to the Academic Achievement and School Leadership strand by engaging participants in STEM-based tasks that enable them to understand how to build an inquiry environment for young children (from birth to age ten). These inquiry environments support initiatives towards school readiness and later school achievement in the cognitive and social emotional domain, in particular, a focus will be placed on increasing young children's motivation and persistence through STEM tasks.

Brief Program Description

This presentation is geared towards early childhood and elementary educators (for children from birth to age ten) that wish to build a more inquiry-centric classroom environment where students can engage in collaborative tasks that are geared towards building STEM processes and content. We will discuss how to use student interests in STEM, place-based learning, and teachable moments to make learning relevant and meaning for students while building on students strengths.

Summary

This presentation is geared towards early childhood and elementary educators that wish to build a more inquiry-centric classroom environment where students can engage in collaborative tasks that are geared towards building STEM processes and content. We will examine the inquiry-based, problem-based, and project-based learning that encourage culturally responsive pedagogy while meeting the needs of multiple science, technology, engineering and mathematics standards. Specifically, we will discuss a variety of integrated, collaborative tasks that involve Science & Engineering Practices, Mathematical Processes, and mobile learning and are designed to make content relevant and meaning for students in the early childhood and elementary settings (from birth to age ten). Activities will relate to engineering structures and case-based learning and a focus will be placed on how to engage and motivate students to persist through tasks. We will also discuss how to use student interests, place-based learning, and teachable moments to build on students' strengths and address 21st Century Learning skills. Through performance-based activities that allow all students to share their understanding of STEM content and processes, participants will examine creative ways to support their students in communicating, collaborating, analyzing evidence, development explanation, connecting content, and engaging in mathematical reasoning. By using integrated STEM activities that focus on supporting communication and collaboration, we will also showcase how these inquiry-based and problem-based lessons address English Language Arts standards. Participants will walk away from this presentation with small group and whole class activities that can immediately be used to reinforce 21st Century Learning Skills and can be used in a variety of classroom environments.

Evidence

Through our discussions with current early childhood and elementary practitioners, we learned some of their struggles and successes with attempting STEM instruction and how these attempts influenced children’s learning, motivation, and levels of engagement. In addition, we learned what supports these teachers would need in order to advance their practice of STEM education in early childhood settings. A central finding from ongoing interviews was the notion that teachers who are intentionally incorporating STEM practices in their classrooms are often not truly integrating STEM content and processes. Those who provided examples of how they implemented STEM often described these examples separately (i.e. this is what we do in math or in the block area, this is what we do in science or in the science center). Often these descriptions were limited to math and science with technology as a vehicle for enhancing instruction. Teacher descriptions of engineering tasks were rare.

This lack of integration and focus on engineering is inconsistent with other views of STEM education. Although the National Science Foundation (NSF) uses STEM to “refer to the four separate and distinct fields we know as science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics” (Sanders, 2009, p 20), NSF also clarifies that the term STEM education is grounded in integration between content areas (Sanders, 2012). Moreover, Moomaw & Davis, expounded on STEM education in early childhood by framing integration as the starting point for their discussion of STEM in preschool (2010).

Preservice early childhood programs often prepare teachers for individual STEM content areas but do not necessarily include coursework that focuses on intentionally integrating these content areas. How are future practitioners able to effectively implement STEM instruction if they never have these experiences in their preservice education? Our hope for this presentation is to act as a vehicle for professional development for teachers who recognize the value of STEM education for young children. As such, we will provide strategies for teachers to implement STEM practices in their classroom settings.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Sandra Linder is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Mathematics Education in the Eugene T. Moore College of Education at Clemson University. Her research centers on supporting and sustaining teacher quality in early childhood mathematics through professional development. She have taught in a variety of elementary settings and worked intensively with in-service and pre-service mathematics educators from infant settings through fifth grade.

Dr. Cynthia Deaton is an Associate Professor of Science Education in the College of Education at Clemson University. Her research focuses on reflective practice, mobile learning integration, preservice science teacher education, and professional development for science teachers. She has worked with variety of PreK-12th grade teachers on science teaching and mobile learning integration through numerous externally professional development projects.

Keyword Descriptors

STEM, Inquiry, Early childhood, Elementary

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-8-2017 11:15 AM

End Date

3-8-2017 12:30 PM

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Mar 8th, 11:15 AM Mar 8th, 12:30 PM

Creativity, Communication, and Connections: Engaging in STEM with Young Children

Percival

This presentation is geared towards early childhood and elementary educators (for children from birth to age ten) that wish to build a more inquiry-centric classroom environment where students can engage in collaborative tasks that are geared towards building STEM processes and content. We will discuss how to use student interests in STEM, place-based learning, and teachable moments to make learning relevant and meaning for students while building on students strengths.