STEM starts early

STEM starts early

STEM starts early

Date posted: February 17, 2017

STEM starts early is a new report that examines the state of STEM learning in early childhood. Researchers and educators agree – through their playful learning, young children demonstrate a readiness for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning. And, STEM learning should start early for greatest benefit.

Young children are quite capable of doing, at a developmentally informed level, all of the scientific practices that high schoolers can do: they can make observations and predictions, carry out simple experiments and investigations, collect data, and begin to make sense of what they found. Having a set of practices like these that become routinized and internalized is going to really help them learn about their world.

Findings include:

  1. Both parents and teachers appear to be enthusiastic and capable of supporting early STEM learning; however, they require additional knowledge and support to do so effectively.
  2. Teachers in early childhood environments need more robust training and professional development to effectively engage young children in developmentally appropriate STEM learning.
  3. Parents and technology can help connect school, home, and other learning environments like libraries and museums to support early STEM learning.
  4. Research and public policies play a critical role in the presence and quality of STEM learning in young children’s lives, and both benefit from sustained dialogue with one another and with teachers in the classroom.
  5. An empirically-tested, strategic communications effort is needed to convey an accurate understanding of developmental science to the public, leading to support for meaningful policy change around early STEM learning.

Key recommendations from the report are summarized in the illustration below.

Click here to read the full report or executive summary.

You can find suggestions for STEAM (STEM plus the arts) activities in our STEAM Family Fun activity sheets.

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