The building itself is set apart from the main campus and looks like it could be just another campus office. But here, some of the next generation's scientists and mathematicians begin their journey. Yes, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education for young children happens right here at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
A day care facility for children ages 6 weeks to 6 years, the Center for Young Children on IUPUI's campus started experimenting a couple of years ago with a class based on STEM education. The program, for children ages 4 to 6, incorporates traditional learning for this age, such as reading, along with science-based lessons. These lessons are hands-on, with the children taught through class sessions planned in partnerships with faculty across the campus.
"The STEM programs here at the CYC are unique in the way the teachers work to develop critical thinking skills," said Kelly Emmert, director of the Center for Young Children. "The teachers construct units and work through the scientific method with the children to hypothesize, perform experiments, analyze results and draw conclusions."
So far, the specifics of the STEM-track curriculum have been broad and far-reaching. One class has visited the Eskenazi Sky Farm, and beekeepers associated with the farm have visited the classroom. The class has also visited the IUPUI Greenhouse and X-ray training labs on campus. The class even developed relationships with the University Architect's Office and the geology department.
"The teachers facilitate and support the wonder of the young children in their classrooms by providing unique opportunities to explore the world around them," Emmert said.
To see the science on display at the STEM Open House, visit the Center for Young Children, 321 Limestone St., from 6 to 7:30 p.m. June 13. IUPUI faculty and staff are encouraged to bring their children ages 4 to 6 to see if the STEM track might work for them.