12 Jun Project Lead The Way ready to roll with preK curriculum
With their sense of wonder and natural curiosity, preschoolers are ready made for STEM learning. To tap into that power and to build a foundation for a positive STEM identity from the beginning of their formal education journey, Project Lead The Way is rolling out a new PreK curriculum beta-tested right here in the Kansas City metro area.
Giving young learners quality STEM experiences provides a critical foundation for learning about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in ways that facilitate later learning, according to a 2018 CADRE research brief:
“Early childhood educators have a unique opportunity to benefit all students by bringing the STEM disciplines into greater balance with literacy, reducing early inequities in access and opportunity to learn STEM, and developing skills and understandings that students can build on as they progress through school and into civic life and the workforce.” *
With activities designed to introduce strong STEM learning habits (collaboration, persistence, problem-solving, curiosity), the Launch PreK curriculum was tested locally by Blue Springs and Shawnee Mission school districts and West Platte Elementary in Weston, Mo.
On May 8, Blue Springs School District students shared their experiences with members of the community during an open house at James Lewis Elementary School. Guests spent time exploring the modules and projects in a classroom and observed students participating in a unit on living and nonliving things. That unit is one of four developed for preschoolers:
Life Science: Living and Nonliving Things By examining habitats, students develop an understanding of what living things need in order to survive. They use the design process to sketch, build, and test an animal’s shelter, then reflect on their design.
Matter: Floating and Sinking Students develop an understanding of matter by examining solids and liquids through hands-on activities, projects and problems.
Healthy Habits: Students develop an understanding of healthy habits and learn how food affects growth, gross motor skills (muscles), the heart, teeth, and eyes. They discover career connections as they learn about wellness checkups at the pediatrician, dentist and optometrist. Students investigate how germs are spread and explore healthy habits to prevent the spread of germs. Using the knowledge and skills they’ve gained from the activities and project, students create a multimedia product to share what they’ve learned with others. In Blue Springs, students shared what they learned about how germs spread with the board of education.
Spatial Sense and Coding: Students develop spatial sense as they engage in activities that explore directional movement—over, under, through and around. They begin to develop coding skills as they plan a path, create wearable code, and code an interactive robotic device. Using the engineering design process, students create code that will lead them to the location of a hidden item.
The units are designed to be flexible and to introduce practices (such as keeping an engineering notebook/scientific journal) students will expand on as they move through school.
- Shawnee Mission School District report on PreK Launch lessons
- Project Lead The Way PreK Curriculum Overview
- Brief: Considerations for STEM Education from PreK through Grade 3
*SOURCE: Sarama, J., Clements, D., Nielsen, N., Blanton, M., Romance, N., Hoover, M., Staudt, C., Baroody, A., McWayne, C., and McCulloch, C., (2018). Considerations for STEM education from PreK through grade 3. Waltham, MA: Education Development Center, Inc. Retrieved from http://cadrek12.org/resources/considerations-stem-education-prek-through-grade-3.