STEM education

How early can we introduce STEM education?

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

STEM education is often perceived as complex and challenging—too sophisticated for preschool, but Cyr and Mia Dubosarsky, co-principal investigator of Seeds of STEM and director of professional development at The STEM Education Center at WPI, contend that the fundamental core of STEM concepts is simple; problem solving.

Supported by a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Services (IES), over the course of four years the Seeds of STEM initiative will involve the creation and testing of six clusters of related lessons—referred to as units—that introduce young children to the problem-solving process through popular storybooks, play, and classroom authentic problems.

“The actual subject matter of STEM in preschool classrooms will be basic,” Dubosarsky said. “Lessons focus on the problem solving process, not concepts and theories. The idea is to provide fundamental knowledge of the problem solving process, to help children and teachers internalize the process and use it to address any problem they have inside and outside of school.”

Seeds of STEM also aims to address the lack of people from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds in STEM fields by partnering with the early education program for low-income children, Head Start of Worcester, to develop, test, and evaluate Seeds of STEM lesson plans.

A pilot test of the entire curriculum is planned for September 2017 in Montachusett Opportunity Council preschools. If the lessons continue to prove to be effective, Cyr and Dubosarsky plan to seek additional grant funding to distribute the curriculum to more schools.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione

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