STEM and Early Learning – A Little Help from Sesame Street

STEM and Early Learning – A Little Help from Sesame StreetSTEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – has become a popular topic in education, particularly since 2006 when the President called for greater focus on these subjects to ensure America’s global competitiveness in the 21st century. For the US to remain an innovation leader, we need to nurture and develop STEM talent. Yet as a nation we may not be doing enough to foster interest in these fields. The Lemselson-MIT Invention Index, which gauges innovation aptitude among young adults (16 to 25), found  in 2012 that 34 percent of students surveyed didn’t know much about STEM disciplines, 33 percent found them too challenging, and 28 percent said they weren’t well-prepared at school to pursue these fields.

With U.S. unemployment at historically high levels and global competition on the rise, it is critical that the tide turn on STEM preparation in U.S. schools. That’s why it was particularly encouraging to see that Sesame Street is focusing on STEM concepts with their ever-curious preschool audience. A recent Getting Smart article – Starting STEM Early with Online Hub from Sesame Street – shared Sesame’s new online offering, Little Discoverers: Big Fun with Science, Math and More, designed to make STEM topics less intimidating for early learners and their parents.

As the article states:

It is taking the “scariness” out of the whole STEM concept for parents by showing that “everyday activities can be science, technology, engineering, and math moments.” Also, parents who were worried that the STEM concepts might be too hard for children this age are finding the opposite is true. There are videos, games and hands-on activities that make it easy for the young learners to soak up vocabulary and concepts.

We’re glad to see high-profile organizations like Sesame Street recognizing the need for STEM resources that support young children’s natural inquisitiveness and foster family engagement. Parents generally want to promote their children’s early learning, and they are well positioned as first teachers, but they often don’t have concrete tools and don’t know where to focus for the greatest gains. Detailed and engaging materials to allow young children and families to engage with STEM learning in the preschool years are a great resource to prepare children for a lifetime of interest and effort in these challenging content areas.

Photo credit to University of Fraser Valley.