Early Learning – Digital Promise

Early Learning

Our early learning research focuses on the ways in which STEM teaching and learning provides opportunities to help our youngest learners build foundational skills. A fundamental aspect of our work explores how media and technology, coupled with hands-on activities, can be integrated into young children’s learning experiences in developmentally appropriate ways.

Through collaborative design with educators and parents, we seek to engage with diverse low-income communities and find meaningful ways to connect school and home learning.


  • Collaborative Math – Our Early STEM Learning team is working with the Early Math Collaborative at the Erikson Institute and SRI to evaluate a systemwide program that aims to create sustainable excellence in mathematics for Head Start programs.
  • ENFOQUE en Ciencia – We are collaborating with the University of Miami to develop a Spanish version of a computer-adaptive science assessment for use with preschool children. Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences, this study examines issues of linguistic and cultural equivalence and involves equating procedures using Item Response Theory.
  • NGPSPlus – Our Early STEM Learning team is working with preschool educators and families from disadvantaged communities to co-design resources that integrate science with mathematics and engineering, connect home and school learning, and support dual language learners. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project explores innovative ways to promote young children’s STEM learning in partnership with EDC and WGBH.
  • Splash Design – We are working with the Jim Henson Company to develop and test an app to help families learn and talk about ocean science and help parents as they support children’s science learning in out-of-school settings. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project involves a series of design-based research studies and a field study to understand implementation.
  • Preschool Computational Thinking – We conducted exploratory work to understand which computational thinking (CT) skills align with the abilities and interests of young, diverse learners and can be promoted in early childhood. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this project involved working in close partnership with researchers at SRI, designers at Curious Media, preschool educators, and families to co-design prototypes, hands-on activities, and digital tools that promote these CT skills.
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