Session description summary: The proposed workshop will open with a short review of the Seeds of STEM curriculum framework, the standards addressed by the curriculum, the emphasis on diversity and equity, and the “problem solving wheel” (an early childhood version of the engineering design process) that guides children through the problem-solving process.
Then, participants will engage in two hands-on tasks: design a toy for a friend who can’t see, and design an assistive device for a friend who broke her leg.
Learning objectives: The proposed workshop is designed to meet four learning objectives:
1. Share with participants the standard-based framework, including learning outcomes, of the Seeds of STEM curriculum,
2. Enhance participants’ knowledge of the engineering design process for early childhood classrooms,
3. Engage participants in integrated problem-based STEM tasks from the Seeds of STEM curriculum, and
4. Provide participants with resources (books, songs, videos, units) for teaching young children how to solve problems.
Interactive tasks: The proposed workshop will engage participants in two STEM related problems from the Seeds of STEM curriculum. The first, design a toy for a friend who can’t see, is a task related to the unit on five senses and structure/function. After engaging young children in learning about the senses and the body parts associated with each sense, they are introduced to an authentic problem: A child would like to play catch with a friend who is visually impaired. The participants will be asked to follow the design process and create a prototype of a toy that relies on other senses to successfully engage the friend in a game of catch.
The second task, design an assistive device for w friend who broke her leg, is related to the unit on forces and motion. After learning about different pushes and pulls, as well as motion types, participants will be asked to design a model of a device that can help a friend who can’t walk get from one place to another.
Following the completion of the two tasks participants will be presented with videos and images of Head Start children solving the same problems. Resources and teaching methods will be discussed.
Resources and practical application for teachers: The proposed workshop will share with participants the complete units associated with the two tasks they just solved. In addition to the detailed instructional activities, each unit also includes resources such as trade books, songs, poems, and videos related to the topic of study. Participants will be given time to discuss possible modifications to each task to make is applicable to their own students.
In addition, the different EDP visuals created by Seeds of STEM teachers will serve as a model for early childhood problem-solving process that can be applied in any classroom.
Finally, the teacher presenter will share her experience teaching the units in her classroom, and answer any question participants may have.
Dr. Mia Dubosarsky
Mia Dubosarsky has been a science educator for more than 20 years. She currently serves as the Director of Professional Development at WPI's STEM Education Center. In this role, Mia oversees the development and facilitation of STEM related workshops for PK-12 educators. Mia also directs the Seeds of STEM research project, which focuses on the development of a problem-based STEM curriculum for preschool classrooms, teaching the EDP to young children.
Susmitha Wunnava is currently pursuing her Ph.D in the Data Science program at WPI. Susmitha’s research interests are in Educational Data Mining, Text Mining and Social Network Analysis. As graduate research assistant on the Seeds of STEM project Susmitha collects and analyzes teachers’ feedback on each one of the curriculum units, and assists with data analysis. Susmitha is a strong advocate of early childhood STEM education.
Suchira Channoi is a Lead Teacher at the Head Start Program in Worcester, MA, and serves as a member of the Seeds of STEM curriculum development team. Suchira holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education, and has taught young children for more than ten years. Ms. Channoi strongly believes that providing science and engineering experiences to young children promotes the development of their analytical and problem solving skills.
Colleen Bostwick has been an educator for 10 years and currently holds a Center Coordinator Support and Lead Teacher positions at the Head Start Program in Worcester Massachusetts. Miss Bostwick is a part of the Seed of STEM curriculum development team, and has done work with WGBH’s Peep in the Big Wide World Professional Development series. Miss Bostwick is dedicated to building the foundation of learning within ALL her students.