At the Erikson Institute and at the TEC Center we are committed to teaching educators how to facilitate equal learning and play opportunities for young children.The TEC Center at Erikson Institute leads workshops across the globe on how you can use tech and non-tech tools to turn your classroom into an interactive learning and playing experience to build a strong foundation for children in STEM and STEAM, but we have decided to keep the “t” lowercase.
Why does the TEC Center keep the “t” in StEM and StEAM lowercase?
At the TEC Center we are deeply committed to keeping the “t” in StEM and StEAM lowercase until all children and families have equal access to technology tools. Many early childhood educators and families don’t currently have equal access to technology, but they do have access to many of the tools i.e. toys and activities we find in our early childhood classrooms that can help young children learn many of the important skills of StEM. These are the basic science, math, engineering, and art concepts that ALL children need to learn through investigating, experimenting, creating, and playing. Turning playing opportunities into learning opportunities is critical in minding the digital gap that will widen if we don’t prepare all children to be 21st century learners through communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking and providing strong StEM and StEAM learning and play experiences.
Here are 5 tips to get you started with StEM and StEAM in your early childhood classroom:
• Create a classroom environment that sets the stage for curiosity. This is a quick and easy measuring activity for preschool classrooms from Erikson Institute’s Early Math Collaborative.
• Investigate with a smartphone (with a sturdy case) or digital camera. These are tech tools that many of us often forget we have. These can both quickly become a microscope utilizing the zoom feature.
• Model with young children how to ask inquiry based questions and join them in their investigations on nature walks or learning how to build with a new toy to support critical-thinking. Digital Cameras and smartphones are helpful, but not necessary for documenting these experiences.
• Make a mess with sensory-based learning experiences for young children where they have the opportunity to collaborate to create with found objects and art materials. Exploration and getting messy help children become inventors.
• Listen and talk with children about what they are playing. Encourage children to explain how to do or make something to a peer to build a strong foundation in communication and sequencing skills.
Want to bring the best practices in StEM or StEAM to your early childhood setting? Contact us!