What is inquiry-based STEM education and why is it important?
Inquiry-based STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics) education in the early years is a collaborative process, which encourages children to raise questions and explore their interests.
In the early childhood context think of STEM as exciting science lessons that unlocked the wonders of the world and that encourages endless questioning.
Childhood is a time for play, discovery and wonder and hands-on STEM education allows children to enter a world full of excitement and fun, with endless things to wonder about and to investigate. Children want to find out more about the world and as a result most of their questions are related to STEM subjects. In early childhood, children’s natural inquisitiveness drives their eagerness to learn.
Inquiry-based STEM education in the early years is a collaborative process, which encourages children to raise questions and explore their interests. In a playful way, children are familiarised with scientific processes and learn to think scientifically. Early STEM education does not teach facts but kindles children’s inquisitive minds.
In progressive early STEM education, the teacher takes the role of the facilitator, empowering children to shape their own learning, and establishing a collaborative environment. The teacher observes children’s individual interests, involves them in decision-making and provides prompts to stimulate their thought processes.
From this observation they then further extend the children’s learning and/or create further exercises that complement and scaffold the children into their next level of understanding.
STEM is a wonderful way to stimulates children’s learning and comprehension of how and why things work as they do which gives them a distinct advantage to ensure their love of learning and success through their school years.