Mapping Pathways to STEM Learning: Building a Community of Practice
Saturday, June 16, Ramps & Pathways awardees from the Governor's STEM Advisory Council met at the Iowa Regents' Center for Early Developmental Education on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa. Awardees shared their experiences with STEM learning through Ramps & Pathways and investigated how they could use their materials to maximize STEM learning for their young learners. Awardees found that STEM learning with Ramps & Pathways is effective in many diverse educational settings. Peter and Joann Gansen from Dubuque shared, "We are a home childcare not a traditional classroom. When we started the ramps and pathways we had children from 8 months to second grade in our home. We have a huge range of ages. One of the first things we were really impressed with was how all of the children could participate. There is not a day that goes by that we aren't picking up blocks at the end of the day. It has been a really positive experience and we are so grateful that the STEM committee has allowed home child care providers to participate in this."
2018-2019 Ramps & Pathways awardees will receive their materials at their first day of professional learning as early as the end of July. Many of the 2017-2018 awardees are excited for this new cohort and are willing to serve as mentors to new awardees. Research says that educators' growth continues when they are connected with other teachers with similar goals and develop relationships with each other within a community of practice. Thank you to the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council for this opportunity to connect with so many Iowa educators!
Regents' Center to Provide Session at NAEYC's Professional Learning Institute
On June 11, the Iowa Regents' Center will put on a two-hour session entitled Ramps & Pathways: A Developmentally Appropriate Integrative STEM Experience for Young Learners for NAEYC's Professional Learning Institute held in Austin, Texas. The session will focus on the following two objectives:
Objective 1: Identify materials and contexts ripe for integrative STEM When hardpressed, early childhood teachers can find ways to address science and mathematics, even if they are not totally comfortable with these domains. But engineering is different. Engineering is often viewed as something outside the child’s world. It is something specialized adults do and something young children should learn about to entice them to think about becoming a future engineer. To assist children in learning about engineering, engineering practices from the outside adult world are broken down and made easier to fit inside the child’s world. This is engineering education from the outside in. This session flips this notion by viewing engineering education from the inside out. Recent research is identifying playful contexts within the child’s world that inspire young children to engage in precursors to engineering. Engineering is already part of the child’s world, and should be grown from the inside out. In this session, participants will engage in playful engineering with unit blocks, tracks, and marbles. They will value the integrative nature of engineering and identify meaningful concepts in science, technology, engineering, and spatial thinking within mathematics that young children will grapple with as they design and build using these materials.
Objective 2: Examine and reconsider the early childhood environment through three lenses: physical layout, socioemotional, and intellectual. Children must have access to time, space, and openended materials to fully capitalize on the cognitive value of integrative STEM. Early childhood teachers often express difficulty in finding time for STEM and state they do not have space or materials. This session will challenge participants to analyze and reconsider their current setting’s physical arrangement and use of time for the potential to develop children’s intellectual goals of reasoning, predicting, analyzing, and questioning in addition to moral development. Participants will reflect on their experiences building ramps and pathways and consider its potential for growing children’s intellectual goals. Suggestions for possible changes to the physical layout, time schedule, and the socioemotional environment to include ramps and pathways experiences will be discussed.
Regents' Center Preparing for Second Round of Professional Learning for Governor's STEM Advisory Council
The Regents' Center Professional Learning Instructors are preparing to travel the state of Iowa to deliver classroom materials and professional learning for awardees of the Iowa STEM Advisory Council. Awardees will be able to implement Ramps & Pathways in their preschool, kindergarten, first, or second grade classrooms. Upon completion of professional learning, awardees will be invited back to the event Celebrating Ramps & Pathways: Mapping New Pathways to Student Learning on the campus of UNI. This event will celebrate and connect teachers who implement Ramps & Pathways, and also provide some additional materials to bring back to their classrooms. Thank you to the Iowa Governor's STEM Advisory Council for this opportunity!