Over the next several months we'll be embarking on a project we're calling STEAM Starters - it's all about tinkering with young learners and supporting early childhood teachers to facilitate tinkering experiences with these little ones. We're lucky to be working with two partner schools in this first phase of this project where we can protoype and iterate on STEAM-rich activities together. Whenever we're beginning new relationships such as these, I think it's important for everyone to come together and discuss our goals, intentions, and values. At our kickoff planning sessions at each school we started by taking the time to discuss what our hopes were for: the kids we work with, ourselves as educators, the family networks of the children, and the school environment.
One of my favorite themes that arose from these conversations is the idea of the educator as a perpetual learner. One teacher said she wanted to develop her "science mind" as part of collaborating on this project. We'll use daily reflections as one way to support this goal of growing our own skills over the course of the project.
Another theme that came up at both schools was the idea of using documentation to show rich evidence of student learning through play and tinkering. We've only had a few sessions at the schools, and already we're seeing wonderful examples of deep engagement and inquiry with a slightly modified set of Marble Machines materials. We'll share more examples of these learning stories as they emerge.
This project is supported through a generous grant from the Early Learning and Care Division at the California Department of Education.