Science in the Preschool Classroom

Last week’s blog post focused on incorporating math into child care center classrooms, as well as it’s importance in child development.  This week’s newsletter will focus on the “S” component of “STEM” education, science.

Science is built on the idea of exploring the unknown. For an astronaut the unknown might be exploring a new galaxy, or for a chemist the unknown might be studying a new chemical reaction. For a preschooler, exploring the unknown might be exploring what happens when ice melts, or what static feels like.  The unknown is relative to one’s age, experiences, knowledge, and abilities. Helping children challenge what they don’t know through science is vital to their development.

According to the NAEYC, preschoolers are naturally inclined to like science because of their “fascination with the everyday world.” In addition, children view science fundamentally different than adults. Adult see science as a discipline with rules and protocols, and children view it as much more open and manipulative.  This more open way of viewing science allows children to take more risks and worry less about procedure and better engage in experimentation. Children are natural scientists.

Preschool teachers play a vital role in encouraging a love of science, which will later in life manifest itself in individuals choosing careers in science.  We especially need to encourage young girls to love science, and pursue it as they get older.  In the Untied States in 2011, women made up only 26% of workers in STEM fields.  We must push for equality in education, and encourage girls to embrace science, and know they would make great scientists!

Learning Benefits of Science: (All information is from EarlyChildhoodNews)

  • Active exploration is promoted: Children who engage  in science activities are exploring and trying things they have never done. They are obtaining new experiences, and are being led by their own curiosity.
  • Science centers the attention of children: If a child is engaging in a science experience, they are likely observing intently and engaging with purpose.
  • Science experiments help children learn measurement skills: Measurement plays a vital role in daily life. Learning these skills young, and the importance of being precise will aide developing these essential life-long skills.
  • Science helps children learn the importance of understanding cause and effect. Example: mix yellow and blue, and watch green be created)
  • Can help spur a love of the natural world: science often is best done outdoors.  To spur a generation of environmental stewards, we must promote a love of science and our natural world!

What are science topics that can be covered in preschool?

  • Astronomy
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Food
  • Rocks and minerals
  • Geology
  • Water science
  • Earth sciences

Need ideas for preschool science lessons/experiments? Check out these sources:

 

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