"The central mission of the STEM Education Coalition is to inform federal and state policymakers on the critical role that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education plays in U.S. competitiveness and future economic prosperity."
It's easy to see the importance and relevance of these subject at a high school or even junior high school level, but what does it look like in preschool? What kind of engineering tasks can a 3 year old do? Before they learn to read and to think logically, what kind of technology, science or math can a child be expected to know or to learn? Is it even relevant at this age?
Yes! Our children are capable and interested, if only we provide opportunities for them to explore. I'm not an expert, but with 20 years experience working with young children, I have some ideas to bring to the table. Here are some photos and quotes from the kiddos this week, about building with pipes.
I provided 12" sections of 1/2"plumbing pipe, and a variety of connectors. At first I simply provided the materials at the water table, and stood back to see what would happen...
Slowly their creations took shape at the water table.
The water came out of the bottom of the tube!
This is "The Statue of Liberty!"
Can you catch the water spraying up from the mister, if the pipe is also sloped upwards? How can you find out?
"Look at my contraption. It's a water pipe trap thing."
Yes, preschool children are indeed scientists and creators. By playing with the pipes and connectors, they figured out how to join them together to create structures. They named their creations after objects they resembled, and found ways to play with them. The children cooperated to achieve mutual goals, and experimented with ways to pour and move water, modifying their structures to reflect their discoveries. This was science and engineering learning, at a preschool level. (But please don't tell the children, they just think we were having fun!)