The North Carolina Head Start Association held the annual conference March 16-18, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of the sessions was titled, Classroom STEM Activities.
At the beginning, the presenters surveyed the group to find out how much they knew about STEM. Some of the responses were, “I don’t have any idea that’s why I’m here”, “My daughter in middle school did STEM project” and “It stands for science-technology-engineering-math but not sure how it relates to preschoolers”.
Presenters defined each letter in the acronym of STEM for participants to gain a better understanding for intentional teaching, encouraging inquiry based questioning and stated relationships in preschool classroom to the real-world. Here are some of the explanations and examples given.
S-ience: is an active and open-ended search for new knowledge. Three general areas of science – Physical science (physical properties of materials, movement of objects and forces that affect materials. Life science (e.g., living things – both plants and animals, growth cycle, environmental needs). And, earth science (e.g., examination of materials such as rocks, shells and soil, patterns of the day and night, light -shadows and reflections, objects in space).
T-echnology: application of tools and information to support living and learning. Examples of Technology simple machine tools are tongs, eyedroppers, pumps, incline pulley, sifters and funnels.
E-ngineering: ability to understand and use the engineering process to solve problems.
M-ath: Five content standard domains are (a) Number and operations (e.g., quantifying small amounts, comparing sets of objects as more, less or equal). This includes one-to-one correspondence and cardinality (the last number counted equals the total), (b) Algebra (e.g., sorting and classifying materials then eventually arranging in patterns), (c) Geometry (e.g., understanding spatial relationship, positional statements and properties of two- and three-dimensional objects, (d) Measurement (e.g., understanding measurable attributes of objects, application of number measurement, measurement comparison, and seriating, and (e) Data analysis (e.g., gathering information, organizing the information, asking/answering questions related to it).
The YouTube clip “Preschool Creates Room Based Around STEM” was shown followed by participants engaging in activities where they had to record under each column what would be related for STEM. The activities were apple corer and divider, building with paper, rocket on a string, spaghetti and marshmallow tower and three Billy goats gruff. Each group reported out on aspects of STEM per activity. In addition, participants ended the conversation how they would assist their staff members engage more STEM activities throughout the centers.