New research entitled STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood builds a case that the technology revolution has made it critical for all children to understand STEM – even in early childhood, defined as birth through age 8. Conducted by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop with generous support from the National Science Foundation, the goals were to understand STEM learning challenges and opportunities, to make recommendations that help trigger new research and policy, and to encourage cross sector collaboration that will affect real change.
The findings examine the STEM landscape and the primary players and suggest that families and educators are motivated to introduce STEM learning into early childhood education but that the educational, social, cultural, and economic systems are often lacking. While we can reprioritize research, develop improved teacher preparation programs, and put plans in place to transform early childhood education – there are some fundamentals that can be used to inform and jumpstart initiatives today.
- Don’t underestimate the power of family engagement in STEM learning.
- Strive for STEM fluency by engaging kids in place based and educational digital media experiences.
- STEM topics can be taught successfully in informal environments like libraries and museums.
- Parents and teachers alike need to be supported as many lack the confidence to encourage natural STEM abilities in young children.
This research is part of a growing body of studies that are showing a correlation between STEM experiences, improved perceptions of STEM, subsequent success in those subjects, and increased likelihood that those kids will pursue STEM expertise and careers. At Couragion, our mission and research is highly aligned. We inspire kids to pursue STEM pathways through improved awareness and perception of the amazing opportunities in STEM. Let's all make sure that STEM learning starts early!