College of Education
University of South Carolina, Columbia
HOW NATURE ENGAGES YOUNG MINDS TO BUILD STEM/STEAM SKILLS?
My interactions with children in classrooms, my experiences, and my observations in early childhood settings make me reflect and realize that even though we often use terms such as broad, exhaustive, and comprehensive to describe content areas in early childhood, very little STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning actually occurs within the classroom. We focus mainly on language and literacy in the early years, since most preschool teachers’ do not show any interest in teaching STEM/STEAM subjects. This paper focuses on the importance of building STEM/STEAM skills in early childhood settings and discusses how nature and outdoor activities contributes to STEM/STEAM skill development among children through explorations, observations, and findings. The study also suggests that students need to explore and teachers need to integrate STEM/STEAM in early childhood and elementary curriculum to offer students unlimited opportunities in learning scientific concepts. In the workshop sessions, I will discuss many different activities that build STEM/STEAM skills among children in early childhood classrooms along with hands-on opportunities. Participants will also learn how to create nature inspired STEM/STEAM activities and get take away lesson plans to implement such activities in their classrooms.