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Kindergarten Kids

Hofstra University’s Center for STEM Research, in conjunction with the Uniondale Free School District, the Freeport Central School District, and the CUNY Graduate Center for Advanced Study in Education (CASE) are submitting an Early Stage Design and Development DRK-12 project that addresses the program’s Learning strand.  WISE Kindergarten Kids—Students, Parents and Teachers as WISEngineering STEM Learners (WKK) will engage kindergarten students, their parent(s)/caregiver(s) and their teachers in blended (web-based and hands-on) engineering design based STEM activities that incorporate science and mathematics to promote STEM learning.  WKK will strengthen teacher/student/caregiver connections in ways designed to impact later STEM education, enhance the STEM knowledge of all participants, expand children’s problem-solving skills, strengthen parent/caregiver understanding of how to support children’s STEM learning, reinforce teachers’ STEM knowledge, and address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in Kindergarten.  The engineering design based activities have three components.  Each starts with a classroom discussion, transitions to the home for completion by students and caregivers, and returns to the classroom for group reflection and deeper learning. Since WKK recognizes the caregiver may be a parent, sibling or neighbor and different people may help care for children from week to week, for purposes of clarity the term “caregiver” will be used in this proposal. The WISEngineering online learning environment (1, 2, 3), which will be accessible from computers as well as smart devices, with content available in both English and Spanish, is the key to facilitating learning across these traditional and informal settings.  WISEngineering will provide necessary scaffolding to allow caregivers, many of whom in our project are recent immigrants, to successfully facilitate the activities at home with their children. WISEngineering will further allow students to post pictures and information about their work, which can be shared with others, including classmates, family members, or loved ones anywhere in the world. Teacher professional development will be provided to help educators optimize student learning and provide guidance for using the WISEngineering data, including what is uploaded by students and parent/caregiver during the home-based projects and during classroom instruction, to assess and enhance learning. This project builds upon five years of development work with WISEngineering and its use in informal and formal settings as well as over 15 years studying interconnected STEM learning.