Young children are natural scientists eager to discover all they can about the world around them. Technology, too, can expand students’ interest in STEM, as well as their ability to acquire information and solve problems—even in preK classrooms.
In Waco Independent School District (ISD), our prekindergarten program provides a learning environment that affords each child opportunities to use their natural curiosity to make sense of their world. Over the last two years, we’ve dramatically increased students’ time on task in STEM, while helping them get a jump-start on learning key concepts and skills.
Here are 4 ways we’re sparking young learners’ excitement in STEM, while preparing them for kindergarten and beyond:
1. Provide meaningful science experiences for future learning and excitement.
Children enter preK classrooms with many conceptions about the world, which they’ve gained from prior experiences. Meaningful science learning experiences help children investigate those pre-existing ideas while building a foundation for additional knowledge. They also help increase children’s understanding of living things, cycles, changes and patterns—concepts that organize the learning of science.
In our classrooms, prekindergarteners participate in simple investigations that help them begin to develop the skills of asking questions, gathering information, communicating findings, and making informed decisions. Using their own senses and common tools such as a hand lens, they can make observations and collect information. Through these experiences, they build a strong foundation for future learning and inquiry.
2. Use engaging, age-appropriate and challenging technology applications.
Technology, too, can extend students’ knowledge and enrich their learning of curriculum content and concepts. That’s why we teach our preK students the basic functions of computers and related technologies. Through our program, they develop techniques for handling and controlling various input devices. This helps them become increasingly confident, independent users of age-appropriate technologies and software programs.
The use of technology is especially important for children who might not have access to such tools at home. This is the case for many of the children participating in our free prekindergarten program.