Youth Development: Building Bridges in Early Childhood Education
From simply stacking blocks in the infant room to making playdough with the young preschoolers and building bridges using popsicle sticks and glue in the afterschool program, STEM education has always been incorporated into our curriculum. STEM is not just adding 1 + 1 or being able to name all the elements in the periodic table, it is offering our students the building blocks and opportunities to think creatively that can inspire the next Irving Marrow, Sally Ride or Steve Jobs.
Students in the afterschool program (5-12 years) each chose a job and participated in a building project. From construction manager to treasurer, students had to design and build their own bridges. With checkbooks in hand, they made purchase decisions from supplies to the land their bridge would be built on and using popsicle sticks and glue, they built their bridges and tested the weight limits. Two bridges held up to 120lbs!
“Our goal in the early Ed program is to give every child the opportunity to discover themselves and their world. To do this means we need to allow them to be able to explore every avenue that we can and ask as many questions as they can think of so that their imaginations will spark a greater future.” – Jennifer Watkins, Afterschool Enrichment Program & vacation Fun Club/STEM Coordinator.