Google the word STEM and just wait and see what you get! In a matter of .33 seconds, Google returned over 64,400,000 results. From STEM coalitions to STEM schools, STEM is everywhere these days.
STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Politicians and leaders in education keep talking about the role STEM education plays in keeping the U.S. a leader in the global marketplace. Everyone seems to have something to say regarding what teachers and schools need to do in order to improve the way our students learn these subjects. There also seems to be a huge push to impact students in high schools, but let me let you in on a secret people seem to be missing. Scientists, engineers, and mathematicians are born in Kindergarten!
Kindergarten. The place where children come to get inspired to learn how to read, write, collaborate with their new friends, learn about numbers, and learn to be scientists. Science in Kindergarten? Really? Can you do science with young students? Yes you can! In fact, they come with lots of ideas about how the world works. If we want to inspire more students to join the STEM career pipeline, that pipeline begins in Kindergarten.
Research conducted by Dr. Robert Tai from UVA has offered the first empirical evidence linking pre-secondary school career interest in science-related STEM careers from early science experiences in elementary school. Did you hear that my friends-experiences in elementary school! All of our talk about reforming high school is not where we need to be spending our energy. We need to engage our learners early. If we want to cultivate the next group of scientists, students have to believe they can do science as well as be a scientists. To do this, we need teachers who cultivate a love and interest for science.
The first session I am doing at the I Teach K conference is all about budding scientists in Kindergarten. I am excited to share simple activities and experiences teachers can use to get students curious and hooked into learning. These experiences are relatively cheap and easy to do. But it requires stepping out of our comfort zone and doing science differently. It calls for teachers to do science and not talk about science. It calls for teachers to connect reading about science and learning to read through science to experiences where students can build their understanding. Engaging the next generation of scientists begins with fostering curiosity.
Get ready guys-a whole new group of science teachers will be born in Vegas! If you are interested in the various lessons from this session, check them out here!