Promoting STEAM through early childhood teacher education

Science, art, and Three Little Pigs: is there anything common? The SciTeach Center says yes, through a new project for early childhood teachers in Luxembourg that focuses on STEAM, an acronym that stands for interdisciplinary teaching/learning of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

STEAM brings the arts into STEM to support the development of critical and creative thinking, encourage the use of imagination for problem-solving, facilitate self-expression, and make other disciplines more accessible for learners. Although STEAM is a fairly recent development in educational sciences, researchers and educators agree that STEAM pedagogical approaches can provide an optimal educational environment that supports the development of necessary XXI-century skills.

STEAM approaches fit very well with early childhood education, in that the holistic focus aligns with young children’s inquisitive, complex and embodied ways of meaning making.  Children are born curious, each day they actively engage in inquiring and making sense of the world. Why do worms have no legs? Can we climb the rainbow? Where do hedgehogs sleep? Children ask questions, think, discuss, and investigate. STEAM supports children in their investigations and explorations, while fostering their creativity and problem-solving skills.

Early childhood STEAM education is important and helpful, but the question is how can a teacher practice it? The SciTeach Center’s goal is to support teachers in promoting STEAM by offering formation continue / professional development workshops that are not only designed for teachers, but also co-planned and co-taught with teachers.

The project invites Cycle 1 teachers for a two-part workshop that introduces STEAM through the popular story of the Three Little Pigs, and which showcases possibilities for engaging young children in design processes and STEAM-related investigations.

The workshop is based around this familiar story to provide a framework for the planned activities over two days: Day of the Pigs (building and testing), and Day of the Wolf (dedicated to wind). Each day includes various activities, group works, engaging discussions, and reflections on own practices, all to support the development of teachers’ own STEAM competencies. The workshop will be repeated six times throughout the year 2023 each time with a new group of co-teachers. So, although the structure is the same, each workshop will be unique and memorable.

This project is grounded in research, as the SciTeach team is examining the process of development. This research will contribute to the field of teachers’ professional development and early childhood STEAM education, with its findings to be disseminated at international conferences and academic publications.

„Werde mich mit einer Geschichte in Zukunft länger und in mehreren Kompetenzbereichen beschäftigen, nicht nur vorlesen und vorzeigen, sondern erzählen, kreeiren und vorzeigenlassen.“

-Teacher Participant, Fall 2023

The project is provided by the SciTeach Center, with the financial support of La Fondation Veuve Emile Metz-Tesch, and the ongoing support from University of Luxembourg and Institut de Formation de l’Éducation Nationale (IFEN).