STEM education provides many opportunities and challenges. How can our practice evolve to meet the needs of 21st-century learners?

Preschool STEM

Bill Marsh

I have become very interested in preschool math since helping with the activities described at blockfest.org and reading the National Research Council’s "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity.”

I highly recommend “The Block Book,” edited by Elisabeth S. Hirsch,to anyone in this group with interests in Early Childhood Education. The chapter in it by Kristina Leeb-Lundberg titled “The Block Builder Mathematician” contains wonderful memories from Frank Lloyd Wright about unit blocks. The chapter begins as follows.

“A Child’s artistry in – and feeling for – block building is closely related to the true mathematician’s view of mathematics as a creative art. The aesthetic pleasure that adult mathematicians experience when they contemplate shape and form and their properties is similar to the pleasure and joy that children experience when they build. Blocks give children an entry into a world where objects have predictable similarities and relations. They can be explored and experimented with and, because of their specific shape be absolutely relied upon.”

Does anyone else have experience with or ideas about the intersection of early childhood and STEM education?

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Biligual PK-6 Teacher

Math Their Way

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For PK-2, I still recommend the wonderful program, Math Their Way, developed by Mary Baratta-Lorton. If your district has the resources and enough interested staff, you can host a 30-hour week-long Math Their Way workshop with the Center for Innovation in Education. Teachers from neighboring districts can enroll, and it's about $350/person. http://www.center.edu/WORKSHOPS/mtw.shtml

If you can't get a workshop, the book is pretty easy to follow, and free to borrow from your public library system.
You will learn how to use those cool hands-on materials, and the book offers you scripts for how to talk so children will do most of the talking and, of course, the thinking together!

They also have a fabulous program for grades 4-6 teachers, that will help you support Algebra for All... although it is a challenge to implement their program without devoting hours a day to Math (and you'll want to and kids would probably love it). It's called Math: A Way of Thinking. http://www.center.edu/WORKSHOPS/mwt.shtml

I have found when dealing

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I have found when dealing with STEM and young children there is not necessarily a curriculum that works but a lot of great resources that will support a well thought out plan for STEM education

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