“..STEM Thinking Starts at Infancy..”
According to Center of Childhood Creativity, “Counter to long-held assumptions about babies and toddlers’ cognitive capacity, we now know that STEM thinking starts in infancy.” It’s a great article and highlights how STEM education is a national priority, not just an individual one.
- STEM thinking begins at Infancy – we need to encourage and nurture this ability to ensure it grows into a live long habit
- Children need more time for play – this helps with STEM thinking
- STEM helps in language development
- STEM skills and interests are built by hands-on learning in which they can steer their learning.
- Having a ‘growth mindset’ matters – this word is becoming a bit of an ambiguous buzz word, but essentially believing learning, improvement, hard work, and intentional effort go hand-in-hand. The growth mindset is especially lacking in minorities.
- Children can grapple with abstract ideas – contrary to belief, and feedback from parents on some of the Tinker Toddlers books is that children need concrete things they can see and think. Modern research disagrees.
The article deep dives into each of these key items. A wonderful read!
Babies are Born Scientists
According to Alison Gopnik and team report that while we think that school for STEM learning, research has demonstrated that there are ample opportunities for STEM learning well before child care, preschool, and kindergarten.
The article dives into how our youngest learners are born wired to think along the scientific method. Babies tend to test hypothesis, just like scientists and like the neural networks we are developing for machines.
Their research shows that encouraging play, presenting interesting outcomes and asking for explanation encourages and nurtures this STEM ability.
Alison Gopnik has a video on this research, supporting TED talks, and a book on this topic as well.
Surprising or Unexpected Situations Enhance Infant Learning
Feigenson and Stahl dive into how infants, before they are even 1 year of age, use the scientific method to test hypothesis, especially when the see something unexpected. Babies are surprised when what they think an impossible thing has happened.
Babies were shown a ball that could seemingly pass through a wall. Other babies were shown a ball that was stopped by the wall. New information was taught about the object, and they found unexpected or surprising situations taught the babies more. This encourages exploratory behaviors.
Here is a video on the experiment.
STEM starts early – super early!
A statement by Roberto J Rodriguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education.
“Too often, we underestimate the concepts our youngest learners can understand. As the most important influencers in our children’s lives, we — whether parents or other caregivers, child care providers, preschool or elementary school teachers — should support this curiosity, guide young children in their exploration, and identify natural learning opportunities to develop and grow these foundational STEM skills.”
The article stresses how we lose our sense of curiosity in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields as we grow older and the importance of developing it and nurturing it. Early STEM education has show to increase success across all aspects of learning.