News

How early can we introduce STEM education?

By Laura Devaney, Director of News, @eSN_Laura
August 9th, 2016

‘Seeds of STEM’ aims to provide preschoolers with the foundation for STEM careers and lifelong learning

STEM education

Key points:

  • Researchers are developing a STEM curriculum intended for preschool students
  • Though evidence suggests early STEM exposure has benefits, little STEM instruction occurs in preschool classrooms
  • A grant enables six clusters of STEM lessons to be introduced to preschool children through play and other instructional methods

Although research suggests that students as young as preschool age would benefit from STEM education, experts point to a gap between what the research says and how much STEM-focused curriculum actually exists in preschools.

In an effort to address the national need to guide more students to STEM careers, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) researchers are developing curriculum which introduces STEM principles during the formative preschool years.

“Despite the evidence that introducing STEM during the pre-kindergarten years supports children’s cognitive development and positive attitudes toward learning and inquiry, there is very little STEM instruction in pre-kindergarten classrooms,”said Martha Cyr, principal investigator of Seeds of STEM: The Development of an Innovative Pre-Kindergarten STEM Curriculum; and executive director of The STEM Education Center at WPI. “Through this initiative we aim to increase STEM instruction practices in preschool classrooms, increase children’s exposure to STEM, and ultimately improve children’s curiosity, knowledge, and skills in STEM.”

Next page: How to combat the idea that STEM education is too challenging for preschool