Research indicates that early exposure and experience with STEM has positive impacts across the entire spectrum of learning (McClure et. al., 2017). Research in child development shows that rich learning experiences during sensitive periods have a lasting positive impact on young children’s future academic success. For instance, early math knowledge not only predict later success, it also predicts later reading achievement (National Research Council, 2012). Early experiences with science develop children’s “social meanings about science as a distinct academic domain that comprises its own disciplinary content, language, and processes” (Matzicopoulos, Samarapungavan & Patrick, 2009, p. 312). Despite these powerful findings, elementary schools and early childhood programs often lack knowledge, resources, time, and capacity to focus on early STEM learning in developmentally appropriate ways (Office of Innovation & Improvement, 2017, McClure et. al., 2017). The purpose of study was to examine early childhood teachers’ pedagogical practices related to integrating STEM in the classroom. Early childhood in this study is defined as zero to eight years. The research was guided by the following questions: How do early childhood education (ECE) teachers integrate STEM in the classrooms? How do ECE teachers select, adapt, and contextualize STEM activities and resources? What are the current barriers to STEM integration in the classroom? An explanatory mixed method design was used, whereby quantitative data were collected and analyzed in phase one, followed by a second phase of qualitative data collection and analysis (Creswell, 2013).
Esther Ntuli, Idaho State University, United States