STEM+C PreK: Developing the Next Generation of Problem Solvers
Digital Promise is working to identify the computational thinking (CT) concepts and skills that align with the abilities and interests of young children and can be promoted through early learning experiences.
The National Science Foundation funded this effort to design and pilot test computational thinking materials and activities for early learners. Our design process involves bringing together researchers, curriculum developers, media designers, preschool educators, and parents/caregivers to work together on the designs. This participatory approach helps ensure that design decisions are evidence-based, take into account the interests of young children, link home and school learning, and address the needs and strengths of preschool programs and culturally diverse families.
Not too long ago, the goal of teaching computational thinking in preschool would have seemed unachievable. But recent advances in our understanding of the building blocks of computational thinking and new insights into the capabilities of young learners have made this an area ripe for exploration. This project is investigating the integration of computational thinking with mathematics and science to inform the development of new resources that provide preschool children with rich learning experiences that prepare them for later school success. Project activities include: (1) developing research-based learning blueprints that delineate learning goals that integrate computational thinking with mathematics and science; (2) designing and iteratively testing complementary hands-on and digital activities that capture young children’s interest and address these learning goals; and (3) identifying principles that guide the design of computational thinking activities that can be used by educators and caregivers at school and at home.