Young children from underserved backgrounds tend to lack opportunities to engage in high- quality mathematics learning. This opportunity gap is pervasive and has lasting consequences. Children who start school behind in mathematics tend to stay behind. In addition, there is a dearth of high-quality preschool mathematics instructional materials due to the misconception that young children are not ready to engage in deep mathematical thinking.

EDC’s Engaging Preschoolers in Data Collection and Analysis (DCA) to Promote Computational Thinking project is tackling these challenges head-on. The team is conducting research and developing hands-on DCA activities, supported by a digital app that focuses on mathematical concepts young children are naturally curious about. The activities integrate mathematics and computational thinking (CT), setting the stage for children from groups underrepresented in STEM fields to succeed in mathematics and CT in and beyond school.

Key Activities

Using an iterative, design-based research approach, the project is carrying out the following activities:

  • Develop a set of nine hands-on, play-based, real-world learning activities
  • Design a digital tool to collect and display data
  • Produce a digital toolbox and investigation lesson plans that enhance children’s and teachers’ understanding of data collection and analysis
  • Create and refine a learning blueprint and conjecture map that can inform early childhood curriculum development
  • Develop assessments to measure and improve preschoolers’ mathematical and computational thinking
  • Conduct studies in preschool classrooms serving children from low-income communities to identify data collection and analysis activities that promote engagement and learning


Drawing on data from 20 schools in two states, this project will:

  • Provide new insight into the types of CT-DCA activities that best promote young children’s—particularly underserved children’s—engagement, mathematics learning, and computational thinking
  • Advance research and development of high-quality instructional resources that integrate early mathematics and computational thinking
  • Deepen understanding of young children’s computational thinking and related developmental capacities

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National Science Foundation