S.T.E.A.M. for Preschool
Beginning with our Pre-Scholars (age 3), we implement weekly S.T.E.A.M. projects (science, technology, engineering, art and math). Our goal is to promote critical thinking and problem solving skills through S.T.E.A.M. lessons. Young children are natural explorers and why not tap into their curiosity in a positive manner. Our STEAM lessons, simply put, allow students to “learn by doing.” A sample S.T.E.A.M. lesson would include students singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat as a precursor to building boats to learn about buoyancy. They then test their boats to see if their boats will float across our Tupperware-made streams.
We utilize a plethora of resources to aid teachers in selecting S.T.E.A.M. lessons that are just right for their students. Such resources include: “Teaching STEM in the Early Years” by Sally Moomaw, “Year Round Project-Based Activities for STEM” by Kathryn Kurowski, and Blaze and the Monster Machines activities created by Nickelodeon and Young Minds Inspired. Each of these resources offers a variety of age-appropriate lessons with step-by-step teacher directions to lead children from questions, to predictions, to testing their predictions, to finding answers to their questions and then asking even more questions!
To effectively implement S.T.E.A.M. with fun and excitement, our teachers engage students in “What” questions rather than “Why” questions. Why questions imply that there is only one right answer and sometimes are difficult to answer. “What” questions are great for observations and discovery. During our weekly S.T.E.A.M. projects, students work to answer “What” questions such as those listed below. During observations and discovery, we ask questions like:
What do you see happening?
What do you notice about ____?
What is the difference between ____ and ____ ?
To further assist teachers in implementing our S.T.E.A.M. initiative, we provide 1-hour training each week where teachers experiment with the S.T.E.A.M. lessons before conducting them with the children. By doing so, teachers have the opportunity to think through the activity, consider the right questions to ask, and determine any accommodations needed to help their students successfully complete the weekly projects.