ERG SES C 04, Early Childhood Education
In recent years, STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics) education has gained significant importance all around the world due to the potential improvements it can provide for development of science, technology and economy. STEM education is defined as integration of the contents and skills of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics areas based on real-world applications (Helm & Katz, 2016). The major purpose of STEM education is to raise the next generation with the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills and innovative mindsets (Corlu, Capraro, & Capraro, 2014). Roehrig et al. (2013) suggested that STEM integration could follow two different approaches: content integration and context integration. Content integration requires merging concepts from different STEM disciplines into a singular activity whereas context integration focuses on one discipline while using contexts from other STEM disciplines. Regardless of the approach followed, an activity can be considered as a STEM activity as long as at least two STEM disciplines are integrated (Yamak, Bulut & Dündar, 2014). Early exposure to STEM education not only contributes to children’s school readiness, but also supports their social and academic success in a long-term (Brenneman, 2011). STEM in early childhood education nurtures children’s curiosity to explore the world and provides foundation for future learning (National Science Teachers Association, NSTA, 2014). According to Meeteren and Zan (2010), young children are normally attracted to outlining and building unpredictable structures as long as the teachers support their capacities to create new things in engineering and design. Moomaw and Davis (2010) also found that children can discover materials using all their senses with appropriate STEM activities Such kind of experiences, for instance, might support children’s learning of variety of concepts including fundamental mathematical concepts (more, less, far, close, fast, slow) and prepositions of place (in, on, under) (Moomaw & Davis, 2010).Their study also indicated that the STEM educational programs help children’ concentration, increase their vocabulary, enhance their cooperative skills, and make logical connections. Therefore, it can be concluded that early STEM experiences have critical role on children’s successful K-12 STEM education. However, the integration of STEM activities into early childhood settings is far behind when it compared to STEM integration into K-12 education (Aronin & Floyd, 2013). For this reason, it is important to encourage early childhood teachers to implement STEM activities in their classrooms and help them throughout this process. Developing a valid and reliable instruments to measure the effectiveness of STEM integration to young children’s educational might be a good step to improve early STEM education.
In this regard, Milford and Tippett (2015) identified the important aspects of an effective STEM implementation in an early childhood setting based on the British Columbia Early Learning Framework (British Columbia Ministry of Education, BCME, 2008) and Ontario's Early Learning-Kindergarten Program (Ontario Ministry of Education, OME, 2010). Then, the researchers developed a classroom observation protocol to capture aspects of STEM instruction in an early childhood setting. They identified four aspects, sixteen dimensions, and three indicators for each dimension to explore how STEM principles are implemented in an early childhood classroom.
Drawing on the relevant literature and inspired by the study of Milford and Tippett (2015), the purpose of this study is to develop appropriate STEM activities for preschool level with participating preschool teachers. This study also aimed to be a guide for preschool teachers during the planning and implementation process of STEM activities.
The specific research questions guiding the present study are:
- Which aspects of an effective STEM implementation are present in the STEM implementations of participating early childhood teachers?
- What are the characteristics of teacher and student interactions during STEM activities?
Aronin, S., & Floyd, K. K. (2013). Using an iPad in inclusive preschool classrooms to introduce STEM concepts. Teaching Exceptional Children, 45(4), 34-39. Brenneman, K. (2011). Assessment for Preschool Science Learning and Learning Environments. Early Childhood Research & Practice, 13(1). Retrieved from http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v13n1/brenneman.html British Columbia Ministry of Education (BCME). (2008). British Columbia early learning framework. Retrieved from http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/topic.page?id=9CAEBBF8B90848D1A66E2A7303E18915 Corlu, M. S., Capraro, R. M., & Capraro, M. M. (2014). Introducing STEM education: Implications for educating our teachers for the age of innovation. Egitim ve Bilim, 39(171). Helm, J. H., & Katz, L. (2016). Young investigators : the project approach in the early years. New York : Teachers College Press. Milford, T., & Tippett, C. (2015). The Design and Validataion of an Early Childhood STEM classroom Observational Protocol. International Research in Early Childhood Education, 1 (6). Moomaw, S., & Davis, J. A. (2010). STEM comes to preschool. YC Young Children, 65(5), 12-18. National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). (2014). Statement of early childhood education. Retrieved from http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/earlychildhood.aspx Ontario Ministry of Education (OME). (2010). The full-day early learning–kindergarten program 2010-11 (draft version). Toronto, ON: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Retrieved from http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/kindergarten_english_june3.pdf Roehrig, G. H., Moore, T. J., Wang, H. H., & Park, M. S. (2012). Is adding the E enough? Investigating the impact of K‐12 engineering standards on the implementation of STEM integration. School Science and Mathematics, 112(1), 31-44. Van Meeteren, B., & Zan, B. (2010). Revealing the work of young engineers in early childhood education. In Collected Papers from the SEED (STEM in Early Education and Development) Conference. Retrieved from www.ecrp.uiuc.edu/beyond/seed/zan.htm Yamak, H., Bulut, N., Dündar, S. (2014). 5. Sınıf öğrencilerinin bilimsel süreç becerileri ile fene karşı tutumlarına FeTeMM etkinliklerinin etkisi. Gazi Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 34(2), 249-265. Yin, R.K., (1984). Case Study Research: Design and Methods. Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage Publications.
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