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STEAM education starts early with the right books

The News and Observer – Susie Wilde

“STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) is one of the best educational initiatives in a long while. Its purpose is to educate children for the future in which they’ll live. When Maria Hitt from The Orange County Partnership for Young Children contacted me to co-present on the subject, I had my doubts. “Really,” I asked, “Technology and engineering for children that young?” She quickly convinced me speaking of preschool technology tools (crayons, scissors, shovels, brooms, hoes, egg beaters …) and engineering that happens in block corners and sand boxes. I know the importance of nurturing the innate curiosity of young children, so Hitt and I composed a workshop to nourish STEAM in preschools. She presented a slew of educational STEAM resources. I focused on the books – some of which I share below.”(more)

The Subtle Science of Sesame Street: What You Never Realized Grover Is Teaching Your Family

The 74 Million – Kate Stringer

“It was a crazy idea, and even today no one is sure who thought of it. It was the researchers. No, the screenwriters. Or maybe the advisers? Whoever it was, seven years ago, dozens of Sesame Workshop team members were sitting in a room preparing for the 41st season of Sesame Street. The mission was to create episodes that would teach children about STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math. That meant incorporating STEM throughout the show’s classic street scenes. But the team also wanted a character to embody the ideas of STEM in separate segments. Which furry, wide-eyed Muppet could pull it off? It was a critical question for a critical moment. Research showed that young children didn’t have a good understanding of their natural environment. American students scored lower on science and math tests than their international peers. The previous year, President Barack Obama had begun the Educate to Innovate Campaign to boost math and science education.”(more)

Jennifer Garner stresses early education at meeting with U.S. governors

Fox News – Staff Writer

“Actress Jennifer Garner spoke at a meeting of the National Governors Association on Saturday, saying that growing up “surrounded by generational, rural poverty” in West Virginia inspired her to become an advocate for early-childhood education. Garner spoke about programs that help bring educators into low-income homes and assist them in preparing children for kindergarten.”(more)

Borsuk: Early childhood education deserves focus

USA Today – Alan J. Borsuk

“There is a generous supply of research that shows that high-quality early childhood programs for low-income kids have lasting benefits on academic success, behavior, and family life. A widely used figure is that the “return on investment” is $13 for every $1 spent. Early childhood is education’s off-off-Broadway show. A good example of what I mean is the way education issues are shaping up as Wisconsin’s budget season gets underway. Big attention is focused on the University of Wisconsin system. Bright spotlights shine on issues around kindergarten through 12th grade. And over there on the side, with almost no one paying attention, are the programs intended to help kids before they reach kindergarten.”(more)

Spatial Skills: A Neglected Dimension of Early STEM Education

Education Week – Jill Berkowicz and Ann Myers

“A new report (“STEM starts early: Grounding science, technology, engineering, and math education in early childhood”) by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and New America provides intriguing insights into the current state of STEM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) in early childhood. Lead author Elisabeth R. McClure and her colleagues did an excellent job describing the importance of STEM development by culling together information not only from scientific literature but also from conversations with researchers, policy makers, and practitioners. The report emphasizes that STEM fields rely on more than just knowledge of facts like 4 + 2= 6, that tomatoes are really fruits, or how to operate computers. No, STEM success relies on broader abilities, such as strong reasoning and problem-solving skills.”(more)

Latino kindergartners start school 3 months behind in math, on average

Education Dive – Tara Garcia Mathewson

“Latino children currently make up 1 in 4 kindergartners nationwide. By 2050, they are expected to be 1 in 3. Latinos are the fastest-growing school-aged population among all races and ethnicities. That’s one reason why the Child Trends’ Hispanic Institute’s latest report on early math skills is particularly troubling. On average, Latino students show up to kindergarten three months behind their white peers, in terms of their math skills. While they make as much progress throughout the year as the average white student, the achievement gap remains because they started behind.”(more)