ALA Unit/Subunit: ALSC
Meeting Type: Program
Cost: Included with full conference registration.
STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and math) are a critical to success in our society, but the emphasis in programming and education has traditionally started with school-age children, and more recently, preschoolers. Now there is a growing body of research that shows something many early childhood educators have known for years: that STEM skills begin to form at birth, with many heightened opportunities for discovery and learning in the brain-building zero to three years. STEM activities can provide a powerful, experiential context for acquiring early language and literacy skills by creating opportunities for meaningful interactions between child and caregiver. The cognitive thinking skills that we now know begin in infancy lead to the abstract thinking that is critical to STEM and language learning. But what does STEM look like in practice with babies and toddlers? And how do we do it at the library? In this session, you will learn how to nurture very young children’s natural curiosity and find the “hidden STEM” in everyday play, exploration, and interactions with parents and caregivers. Hear what the research says, and how to turn research into practice through STEM programming, STEM kits, baby maker spaces, and STEM-focused “Playdates” for children 0-3. Learn how to bring STEM programming for babies and toddlers into your community by providing presentations for formal and informal childcare providers, and other outreach strategies to expand accessibility to groups with historically underrepresented access to quality STEM education in the early years.