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Annual Head Start STEM Exhibition – Explore, Investigate, Examine and Inquire

Annual Head Start STEM Exhibition – Explore, Investigate, Examine and Inquire

Approximately 125 early childhood educators from Early Head Start and Head Start grantees in all six New England states gathered in Devens, Massachusetts for the 5th annual STEM Exhibition. The event was hosted by the New England Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Network, a program of the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute.

STEM exhibits, highlighting experiments, activities and children’s work in classrooms, were displayed around the perimeter of the meeting room. At each exhibitor’s table, early childhood teaching teams engaged with participants by discussing and demonstrating various scientific experiments which promote young children’s curiosity, inquiry and investigation.

In the morning, attendees had the opportunity to hear a keynote address by Melissa Russell, M.Ed., preschool director of The Hundred Acre School at the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, Massachusetts. Her presentation was entitled “The Power of Purposeful Play: Creating a STEM-Focused Classroom, Curriculum and Culture”. Ms. Russell focused on ways that preschool classroom environments can be transformed into a place of discovery and problem solving. She highlighted the importance of encouraging and validating children’s curiosity, communication and being purposeful in creating a science focused environment.

In the afternoon, two presentations were provided that highlighted work of Head Start grantees. Christine M. McWayne, Ph.D., Director of Early Childhood Education, Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University, provided a presentation entitled “Engaging Families and Teachers in STE Curriculum Co-Construction for Dual Language Learners”. She shared information about the RISE (Readiness through Integrative Science and Engineering) Project which focuses on a science, technology and engineering curriculum that supports dual language learners through a home-school connection. Partnering with Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) Head Start, the RISE Project co-constructs an integrative STE curriculum with Head Start teachers and families. The final presentation was provided by Aura Hill and Danielle Coles from Communities United, Waltham Creative Start. Their presentation, “All in the Family: A School Wide Approach to STEM through Family Engagement”, delineated creative strategies and unique activities that the grantee implemented to support children’s STEM development by engaging with families and providing them with information to support their children’s school readiness skills.

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