The core of our curriculum is The Seeds of STEM curriculum which is a research-based curriculum developed over years of rigorous testing and supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education. The Seeds of STEM integrates science concepts with engineering practices and supports the development of STEM foundational skills. Throughout the Seeds of STEM units, the children define and research the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, sort the solutions into testable/non-testable in a classroom setting, plan a selected solution, create the solution, and test it against The curriculum developed by researchers from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), the College of the Holy Cross, and teachers from the Worcester Child Development Head Start Program. The criteria for successful solutions, revise the solutions and share the final solutions.
Throughout the process, the children share their work (ideas, plans, and prototypes) with their peers. This process introduces children to the early concepts of the engineering design process.His development was guided by an advisory board that included engineers, experts in Early Childhood education, experts in teacher Professional Development, and researchers with expertise in study design and STEM stereotypes.
The Seeds of STEM curriculum development followed a rigorous testing & revision process. All units of the curriculum were tested multiple times in nearly 40 preschool classrooms. The curriculum was revised 5 times based on detailed feedback from teachers. All units were designed for and tested in multi-age classrooms.
The Guiding Principles of the Development of Seeds of STEM Units
Following an extensive review of the literature, the Seeds of STEM research team defined a set of eight research-based principles to guide the development of the curriculum and ensure its high quality. The team adapted the Dayton Regional STEM Center’s Quality STEM Framework (Pinnell et al., 2013) to meet the standards for high-quality early childhood education.
Seeds of STEM learning experiences provide children with books, videos, materials, and tasks that are appropriate for their cognitive and language development.
Seeds of STEM learning experiences are designed to reflect the diversity of gender, ethnic background, and physical abilities while allowing access and emphasizing children’s own culture.
Application of the Engineering Design Process
Seeds of STEM learning experiences engage children in open-ended, multiple solutions problem-solving task which requires them to follow the engineering design process (i.e., defining the problem, brainstorming, researching, creating, testing, improving, and communicating).
The Integrity of the Academic Content
Seeds of STEM learning experiences are content-accurate, aligned with the relevant content standards including the Georgia Early Learning Development Standards, and foundational skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math as articulated in Pre-k standards and frameworks.
Quality Of Technology Integration
Seeds of STEM learning experiences are hands-on in nature and require children to use a variety of tools to solve each problem (e.g., scissors, scales, computers, screen-free coding robots, rulers, and hand lenses).
Connections to non-STEM Disciplines
Seeds of STEM learning experiences help children connect STEM knowledge and skills with standards from early literacy, art, social-emotional, and physical education.
Real-world connections and STEM Careers
Seeds of STEM learning is driven by real-world phenomena, which are familiar and relevant to the children’s life inside and outside of the classroom. When applicable, quality STEM learning experiences introduce different STEM careers and help children understand the roles of people who work in STEM disciplines.
Nature of Assessment
Seeds of STEM units includes formative and summative authentic embedded assessments. The variety of activities allows children to demonstrate their understanding differently and will enable teachers to record children’s mastery of learning outcomes.
At the Science Akadémeia, our mission is to provide high-quality early science education in a fun, caring, nurturing, and visually stimulating environment. We provide children with the tools to cultivate their innate curiosity while providing a foundation for math, art, technology, language, and literacy. We work with children to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help them discover and understand the world around them and figure out the answers to questions on their own. We believe that early immersion in using the engineering design steps integrated with the scientific method experimentations cultivate a child’s ability to develop a scientific thinking process that will last a lifetime.