A pre-k program engages students with STEM

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are a priority in schools, but the Amazing Explorers Academy in Oviedo, Florida is giving students a jump start by outfitting pre-k students with engaging activities.

TRANSCRIPT

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are a priority in schools, but The Amazing Explorers Academy in Oviedo, Florida, is giving students a jump start by outfitting pre-K students with engaging activities.

When it erupts...

Among educators, a consensus has emerged that STEM -- science, technology, engineering, and math -- is essential for a 21st-century education.

The Amazing Explorers Academy in Oviedo, Florida, is doing something new -- bringing STEM to the pre-K set by stimulating learning through hands-on activities.

Children learn by doing and by being involved.

We often think of young children in the sensorimotor stage of development, which is where they use all of their senses to find out about their world.

And so if we can integrate as many of those senses into the activities that we're doing in the classroom, it's a natural fit for what they already do.

Every space -- and you wouldn't believe it has up to 20 activities that are embedded and that are scaffolding in every single area of the school.

They're actually connected to the standards to make it more intentional -- for the educators to understand that they're not just there doing something or playing, that that has a purpose.

That activity, at the end, will actually allow them to discover new knowledge.

When we look at a model that allows children to think, that encourages them and invites them to think and to question, that whole process is setting the stage for children to know that, if they have a question, if they want to learn something, if they want to find out, they can do it.

Well, I was just looking at a crab, which had a huge claw.

So I was just asking myself, 'What do they use their claw for?'

An important aspect of the curriculum is physical movement.

Children learn better when they move.

As a matter of fact, learn better when they move.

It's called kinesthetic learning.

The more senses you use, the more neurons are firing in the brain, the more pathways are made that will help you recall and remember.

The brain is an amazing part of your body.

And most people already know that you have a right and a left hemisphere and the brain's divided in half.

What most people know is that, across the top of your head, you have the motor cortex, which 'motor' means 'movement.'

So if you were combining music, movement, and academics, you're now firing all four parts of your brain.

So your whole brain is engaged in the learning process.

[ Laughter ]

Teachers often blend several methods of learning to ensure the lesson is reaching each student.

We actually encourage being different and finding your own language.

We expose them to all different technologies, mediums, ways of expressing themselves artistically, musically.

So we're actually providing them a platform, or canvas -- an canvas so they can become all that they can be.

The academy also brings in members of the community to share their experience and expertise.

See all that fire?

When I was first asked to do this, I thought, 'Oh, how in the world am I gonna teach 3-year-olds anything?'

It was just hard for me because I've had 25 years of high-school teaching.

And you don't 'dumb' it down.

I hate that word.

You don't water it down.

You just figure out a way to explain to 3- and 4-year-olds the scientific concepts.

And they are so bright.

It's just absolutely amazing what they actually can learn.

It never ceases to amaze me.

In the end, it's about making pre-K education more effective by getting the kids involved.

We believe that children are not recipients of information, but we see them as co-participants in the learning process.

When children actually participate in their learning process through hands-on activities, through play, in a fun way, we're actually able to build on their natural ability and curiosity.