Preschoolers embrace STEM concepts in exploratory play

Hopkins’ youngest learners tinker with introductory STEM lessons while having fun being kids. Visit Us! open house events scheduled for February.
February 08, 2016

It’s never too early to introduce children to new concepts, especially those involving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lessons. Inside Hopkins’ preschool classes, the District’s youngest learners are embracing STEM-related concepts through exploratory play.

Karen Tadewald, preschool program supervisor, said Hopkins preschool students are being exposed to the fundamentals of engineering and math through building blocks and Tinker Toys, and the exciting world of science and technology by engaging with a wind tunnel.

“They realize how engaging and fun STEM concepts can be, and it just feeds right into exploratory anyway,” she said. “So we introduce the STEM vocabulary and the kids really take notice of what they are doing. It just makes the lessons so much more relevant.”

Aside from the foundational learning occurring during the child’s time at Stepping Stones Preschool, Kaleidoscope Preschool, and Ready 4 K Preschool they are also learning about slope and speed by sending cars racing down a track. Students tap into their creative sides and design miniature flying objects that are filtered through the makeshift wind tunnel. And they explore the surface of rocks and minerals using a Zoomy handheld microscope that projects onto a laptop.

Kaleidoscope Preschool teacher Kim Groenke encourages her students to become familiar with STEM concepts early. She said it builds a strong foundational understanding for Hopkins’ STEM-focused curriculum. 

“Introducing these concepts in a setting like this, where it’s fun, it shows them that everyone can do it,” Groenke said. “When they are exposed to these lessons over and over, they get to higher grades and they will remember what they’ve learned because they have already experienced it.”

Introductory STEM lessons are just one of the many educational opportunities available to students enrolled in Stepping Stones, Kaleidoscope, and Ready 4 K preschool programs. Tadewald said the learning environment within the preschool setting is crucial to a child’s lifelong educational success.

“They are watching each other and are learning from each other every day,” she said “Regardless if someone has not had a prior experience to STEM or wasn’t interested at first, they watch each other succeed and suddenly they all want to participate. And that is a great dynamic for the child.”

Want to know more about the preschool options for your young learner? Stepping Stones Preschool and Kaleidoscope Preschool are hosting Visit Us! events where parents can talk to staff, ask questions, and explore the engaging preschool classrooms. The open house events are taking place through the month of February.

For more information, visit the Stepping Stones Preschool or Kaleidoscope Preschool websites.

Stepping Stones Preschool Visit Us! dates:

(full-day • full-week preschool)

  • Meadowbrook: Tu., Feb. 9, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Tanglen: Tu., Feb. 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

  • Gatewood: Thurs., Feb. 18, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Kaleidoscope Preschool Visit Us! dates:

(part-day • part-week preschool): Events include STEM activities!

  • Glen Lake: Thurs., Feb. 25, 12:30-1:30 p.m.

  • Harley Hopkins: Fri., Feb. 26, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

  • Meadowbrook: Mon., Feb. 29, 12:00-1:00 p.m.

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