All children are primed to engage with and enjoy science from an early age. Yet young emergent multilingual learners (EMLs) from historically underserved communities often face systemic opportunity gaps that create unequal access to science experiences. The result is a “science opportunity gap” that starts before children enter kindergarten. In addition, preschool teachers traditionally have not been prepared to support science experiences that incorporate the language learning supports that young EMLs need to explore inquiry-based science.
Building on LASErS, EDC is partnering with the Connecticut Science Center (CSC) to engage children, families, teachers, and the community to form a powerful partnership that fuels children’s science and language learning across multiple settings. The project is also enriching the quality and quantity of science and language learning environments for young EMLs, building their confidence in doing and learning science and introducing them to a variety of STEM career options.
EDC and the CSC, in collaboration with Hartford-area schools, are carrying out the following activities:
- Develop and deliver an immersive three-day professional learning experience that builds the capacity of early childhood educators to facilitate language-rich classroom science explorations
- Provide teachers and families with accessible instructional materials, resources, and ongoing supports to narrow opportunity gaps—particularly for young EMLs
- Engage families and teachers in collaborative workshops that align children’s home and school science experiences
- Foster interest in informal science experiences by providing opportunities for children, families, and educators to explore the CSC
- Support the use of science engagement resources, including the publicly available Peep and the Big Wide World educator and family resources
- Provide ongoing opportunities for teachers to connect, share, and reflect on their science teaching through an online professional learning community
- Launch a STEM Community Helpers program and recruit STEM role models in the community who reflect the cultures and ethnicities of children and families
- Convene “I love science” capstone events at the CSC, bringing together all stakeholders to share, learn, and have fun while engaging in community STEM learning
- The combined home-school-community science experiences will promote the science inquiry, interests, and thinking of over 400 children, including young EMLs
- The Inquiry Institute for teachers will build the capacity of over 50 early childhood educators to facilitate high-quality, language-enriched science explorations focusing on EMLs' assets
- The program will engage over 200 families in supporting their children’s science inquiry and thinking at home, at school, and in the community.
Connecticut Science Center, Consolidated School District of New Britain