Preschool is a key time to introduce young learners to the foundational fluencies of science, technology, engineering, and math through STEM kits. That’s because these early years are a crucial time for brain development. As Buchter explains in this reporting by the University of Nevada,
“During the earliest years, infants and toddlers develop 700 neural connections every second. These biologically driven neurological processes and natural curiosity of how the world works make early childhood an optimal time to introduce children to scientific inquiry.”
That’s why early childhood education is so important to us at Kid Spark Education. Our Foundational Fluencies lab is specifically designed to teach STEM in these critical years. The program focuses on helping young students develop important competencies that are prerequisite for a lifetime of STEM learning. While many students learn these fluencies at home, this program helps fill in critical gaps that may exist, especially for underserved and underrepresented students. In this time there are so many potential learning outcomes.
While it can feel like perhaps STEM might be advanced for these early years, carefully crafted STEM programs can teach students key skills that aid in child development. Learn some key learning objectives students can learn with STEM kits below!
1. Using Spatial Reasoning
Spatial reasoning, or the ability to envision objects or ideas in three dimensions, is an important skill for Pre-K students to learn. They need to understand how objects can exist in relationship to each other and how different components can make up a whole. In fact, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children,
“Research suggests that preschoolers’ early mathematics learning—including spatial-thinking skills—is related to later success in both reading and math. Spatial thinking involves children learning to navigate through their environment, to use maps and diagrams to solve problems, and to follow directions.”
STEM kits allow preschoolers to explore this type of learning through working through different problems. In working with the large-scale and small-scale building components, young students can get that understanding of space and size that will prepare them for years in STEM learning.
2. Reasoning Abstractly and Quantitatively
All children are natural designers, but they need the support of a STEM program to truly begin thinking like scientists and engineers. Working on understanding different building components, how to make things strong, and how to make things move will allow them to take their rich imaginations and make functional designs. That means they’ll be able to reason solutions both abstractly and quantitatively, which is fundamental for mathematics and other STEM disciplines. As explained in the Common Core standards,
“Mathematically proficient students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.”
Being able to teach preschoolers to solve problems like this is built into our programs. As students learn foundational fluencies that are the foundation of STEM learning, they’ll learn how to see problem-solving in a whole new way. Because students are working physically with blocks and components, they’ll be able to reflect on building their solutions when they have to solve problems outside of STEM labs.
3. Working With Others
Preschool is a time when so many young students are learning crucial social skills like sharing, working with other students, and building relationships. Being able to work with other preschool students while they work on STEM kits will not only build STEM skills but vital social skills as well.
Whether they end up in a career in STEM or not, being able to work together to solve problems will only help the students grow. According to the National Education Association,
“Collaborative learning has been shown to not only develop higher-level thinking skills in students, but boost their confidence and self-esteem as well. Group projects can maximize educational experience by demonstrating the material, while improving social and interpersonal skills. Students learn how to work with various types of learners and develop their leadership skills.”
Our STEM Labs and combined curriculum teach preschool students to develop these skills because it’s a place where students cooperate in order to engage problems, to build on team member’s ideas, and to find solutions to complex problems. Having this experience both in learning social skills and in STEM learning will only help students have an even brighter future.
4. Seeing How the World Works Around Them
One of our favorite part of seeing how students gain understanding of how the world operates through STEM. Seeing young students make those important connections and solve problems with new solutions is truly amazing. Just like reading, these STEM concepts are an essential tool for understanding and interacting with the world. Kids who are “STEM fluent” learn to think critically, solve creatively, and engage fearlessly with the world around them. By providing tools to support STEM education, we help preschool students and beyond to develop the courage to imagine a better world and the skills to create it.
By seeing how things can be made strong and move, students can make connections to real-life bridges and buildings, components of technology, and the structures they interact with everyday. Being able to make these connections will only help them have a stronger understanding and love of STEM for years to come.
Ready to Add STEM Kits to Your Preschool Classroom?
Of course, this is only a broad overview of what preschool students can learn from STEM kits. Our Foundational Fluencies program teaches young learners the key foundations of STEM learning, so they can continue a love of STEM throughout their lives. At Kid Spark Education, we believe that all children must acquire these basic fluencies to make sense of more advanced STEM learning opportunities and to be successful in a technologically-driven world.
If you’re interested in adding Kid Spark Education programs to your classroom, we’d be happy to talk to you further. You can learn all about our Foundational Fluencies program on Pre-K-1st Grade program page. You can also contact us to get started!