The text below is an edited press release submitted by Regis College.
Could you tell the difference between real snow and an artificial snow made by combining water with instant snow polymer?
Children from the Regis College Children’s Center (RCCC) and The Academy of Regis College, a private, full-day kindergarten, recently did just such a science experiment during a visit to a lab at the Regis science building. They learned how to explore the temperature, texture and appearance of the two materials and were given an in-class assignment to monitor the two samples over the course of a few days and compare the differences.
The collaboration between the Children’s Center and Science faculty illustrates Regis’ STEM initiative. Research has found that early exposure to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) supports children’s overall academic growth, develops early critical thinking and reasoning skills, and enhances later interest in STEM studies and careers. Incorporating STEM into early childhood education and out-of-school time taps into children’s natural curiosity and their sense of wonder.
STEM education broadens children’s experiences and understanding of the human-made and natural worlds around them.
“As STEM education is in the forefront, it is so important that children are exposed to activities in these disciplines to spark interest and curiosity," said Leslie Bishop, associate professor of chemistry at Regis. "It is the hope that their excitement in these subject areas will be generated as early as possible and sustained as they continue their education."
Longterm plans include continuing the collaboration to have preschool and kindergarten students visit the science building twice each month to participate in science and math activities.
"Regis is fortunate to have an intergenerational campus making it easy for pre-school and kindergarten children to walk over to the Science Building and interact with faculty and college students,” said Antoinette Hays, president of Regis College.
According to Amy Scott, director of the Children's Center and Academy, “Early Learning Standards are essential to guide developmentally appropriate educational practices for young children. Standards provide a common language and a framework for educators to identify specific skills and content areas that support children’s learning in all areas of development."
Regis is a member of the MetroWest STEM Education Network, which was formed to increase the number of students interested in entering the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. In addition to Regis, which Hays represents, the group includes representatives from Framingham State College, MassBay Community College, Olin College, Dean College, Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, along with the AstraZeneca Boston R&D, Genzyme Corporation, Massachusetts General Hospital and NSTAR.
The goal of the Metrowest STEM Education Network is to widen the pipeline of STEM-capable workers to ensure businesses have the skilled employees they need. To meet this goal, students must be prepared to achieve academically in STEM subject areas, be stimulated in STEM and be aware of STEM-related career opportunities. Science and math teachers at all levels will be key players in bridging the gap with students to make STEM subjects relevant and appealing as career options.