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Holy Family Catholic Academy’s STEM Instruction Takes Root in Preschool

Mrs. Mary Polak taps into the natural curiousity of Holy Family Academy's preschoolers with a hands-on science class
Mrs. Mary Polak taps into the natural curiousity of Holy Family Academy's preschoolers with a hands-on science class
Motivated by the success of their innovative “hands-on/minds-on” middle school STEM program, Holy Family Catholic Academy has begun to enhance their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) instruction throughout their curriculum, including preschool.

Recently, the Inverness school launched the concept of an “in-house field trip” for their 3-and 4-year-old learners. These regularly scheduled events focus on expanding Holy Family’s early childhood curriculum to include more science.

The idea is part of the vision of Principal, Kate O'Brien. “Our curriculum embraces the Partnership for 21st Century Skills which focuses on going beyond the “3 Rs” of reading, writing and arithmetic, and adding the “4 Cs” of creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.  There is one more significant “C” that comes naturally to young children and that is curiosity,” states Mrs. O'Brien. 

Too many people think of science class as the boring recitation and memorization of facts and equations. While factual information is important, it is curiosity that fuels young minds to continue to figure out how the world around them works.

“Preschoolers really act like little scientists; they learn about their world by observing, investigating and clearly testing the rules," states Mrs. Mary Polak, an early childhood educator, who delights in teaching the Academy's youngest learners about science.

The most recent science class included preschoolers observing how “raisins danced” when dropped into various liquids. When part of the experiment did not work as expected, 4-year-old Zachary suggested another approach. When it worked, everyone screamed with glee, including Mrs. Polak!

Studies have shown that when students are given exact directions on what they need to know or how they should specifically complete a project, they are less likely to explore beyond those directions. However, our ever changing 21st century world is full of things yet to be discovered.

Concludes Mrs. O’Brien, ”Life-long learning begins when educators cultivate curiosity, and there is no better place to start than in early childhood education.”




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