IE’s STEM- based curriculum is designed to allow young children to explore science, technology, engineering, math, and literacy through exploration, play, investigation, problem solving, preferential learning and experimenting. This STEM curriculum was created through research on the benefits of STEM in preschool and how it should look in a preschool classroom and is also aligned with the PA Learning Standard for Early Childhood Education and Target Science and/ or Engineering Practice. IE’s outdoor school and butterfly gardens play an important part in our STEM curriculum because children get a chance to explore their natural environment. IE’s lessons are created in a way where children can explore the joy of preschool by experiencing the science, technology, engineering, math, literacy all together in hands-on activities.
IE approach through implementing a STEM curriculum.
- Curiosity and Initiative: Children explore the environment with an increased
focus on ways to learn about people, things, materials, and events.
- Observation and Investigation: Children observe and investigate objects (living and nonliving things) and events in the environment as they develop new knowledge and spark new interest. Children also use their five senses to observe the world and describe what they experienced.
- Making prediction and Risk-taking: Children are encouraged to make predictions at the beginning of STEM activities on what they think might happen, as well as learning that it is ok to make mistakes and learn from them.
- Experimenting and Task Analysis: Children are provided with opportunities to formulate ideas, test them, and coming up with conclusions.
- Engagement and Attention: Children’s interests are sparked by our interactive activities even if they are challenging or difficult.
- Creativity: Creativity is self-expression and children get the opportunity to engage in creative play and the ability to express themselves in different ways without judgment. Creativity also fosters mental growth in children by providing opportunities for trying out new ideas, and new ways of thinking and problem-solving.
- Exploration and Play: Children get the opportunity to engage in meaningful play and learn from each other, as well as exploring their environment using their senses. As children get the opportunity to explore, they also build a strong foundation for learning how to read and write.
- Invention: Children get a chance to formulate and explore ideas and develop creativity.
- Making Connection: Children get the opportunity to connect with the world through exploration, self-discovery, and nature.
- Problem Solving: Children construct knowledge by making mistakes and coming up with ways to solve problems.
- Literacy: Children are exposed to a variety of STEM books to develop literacy skills and acquire new knowledge in the STEM field.
What is the PA Learning Standard for Early Childhood Education?
Pennsylvania’s Learning Standards for Early Childhood are research-based according to age and development, and form the foundation for curriculum, assessment, instruction and intervention within early care and education programs.
Learning Standards for Early Childhood are used to:
• Inform professionals about curriculum and assessment
• Guide the selection of instructional materials and the design of interactions/goal setting
• Inform families of appropriate expectations for children
• Provide a common framework for community-based birth–grade 3 alignment work
Approach through play and exploring
AL.1 Constructing and Gathering Knowledge
AL.2 Organizing and Understanding Information
AL.3 Applying Knowledge.
AL. 4 Learning through Experience
What is the Target Science and/ or Engineering practice?
The practices describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems. The NRC uses the term practices instead of a term like “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice. Part of the NRC’s intent is to better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.
Target Science and/ or Engineering Practice
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering guiding)
- questions could include
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information