100Kin10, a national nonprofit focused on recruiting, preparing, and supporting teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math, announced today the winners of $2 million in grants for projects focused on STEM in early-childhood education.
The Early Childhood STEM Learning Grants are more evidence of a growing interest in STEM in the early years from policymakers, researchers, and funders. The White House announced a set of initiatives related toearly-childhood education and STEM last year, and earlier this month, a group of researchers and experts in early childhood released a report calling for more training, standards, and support in early childhood.
100Kin10 itself was founded after President Obama called for recruiting, training, and retaining 100,000 more STEM teachers within a decade in his 2011 State of the Union address.
“We tend to think of STEM as a specialized subject in high school or college,” said Talia Milgrom-Elcott, the executive director of 100Kin10. But if you wait to try to close gaps or inspire interest in the subjects until middle or high school, she said, “you’re already losing so many kids.”
100Kin10 asked prospective grantees to create projects addressing a challenge: “How might we support teachers to create active STEM learning environments in grades P-3 in schools across the country?”
Supporting teachers is important, Milgrom-Elcott said, because “most teachers are now in schools. There is no hiring-firing plan that gets you to more teachers than are currently in schools. So if you really want to change what’s happening, you have to go to people who are in schools.”
She said most teachers had never been taught STEM in a more hands-on way as young people and didn’t learn how to teach that way in their training programs. Many of the grants center around introducing teachers to these active STEM learning experiences.
100Kin10 has run similar grant programs for computer science and technology education and will run an upcoming program focused on experimentation in the classroom. Milgrom-Elcott said that the grantees will collaborate and share their experiences, challenges, and findings with each other.
Here’s a list of the grant winners, from the press release:
- A partnership between the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education to offer professional development to DC early-childhood educators, including facilitating teaching lessons at the museum
- A New York Hall of Science professional development program in partnership with the Bank Street College of Education to help kindergarten and 1st grade teachers in Queens integrate active STEM learning into lessons
- A professional development program at the American Museum of Natural History in New York that will support teachers in low-income communities in that city to bring museum-developed, hands-on learning opportunities to their students
- A Loyola Marymount University project, in partnership with the California Science Center and Auburn University to develop a curriculum kit for kindergarten teachers that encourages students to use design thinking to tackle real-world problems
- A collaboration between University of Northern Colorado and the Colorado School of Mines’ TEAM-UP program to pair teachers in training with elementary teachers to design and deliver STEM lessons to kindergarten-3rd grade classrooms
- A new mobile science app for teachers and parents to be developed by the New York Botanical Garden to encourage students’ scientific exploration in the botanical garden
- An online professional development program from the University of New Hampshire for Pre-K-3rd grade math teachers across the state
- An expansion of a summer fellowship from the Silicon Valley STEM nonprofit Ignited for 2nd and 3rd grade teachers
- A yearlong program from STEMteachersNYC for kindergarten-3rd grade teachers to help better foster student discussions based on evidence
- A partnership with NYC Men Teach, the City University of New York, the Lawrence Hall of Science, and ExpandED Schools to launch a program for pre-service and 2nd grade teachers in NYC
- Funders Set New Round of Grants for STEM Teachers
- A Call for Research, Training, and Standards for Early-Childhood STEM
- Science Achievement Gaps, Present in Early Years, Persist Over Time
- In Kindergarten, There Is No STEM Gender Gap
- New Survey Focuses on Best Practices in STEM Teacher Training, Retention
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.