1. Mia Dubosarsky
  2. Director of Professional Development
  3. Seeds of STEM
  4. https://seedsofstem.org/
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Florencia Anggoro
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Seeds of STEM
  4. https://seedsofstem.org/
  5. College of the Holy Cross
  1. Colleen Bostwick
  2. Teacher / Pedagogista
  3. Seeds of STEM
  4. https://seedsofstem.org/
  5. Worcester Head Start
  1. Suchira Channoi
  2. Pre-K Teacher / Pedagogista
  3. Seeds of STEM
  4. https://seedsofstem.org/
  5. Worcester Head Start
  1. Melissa Sue John
  2. Research Associate
  3. Seeds of STEM
  4. https://seedsofstem.org/
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  1. Susmitha Wunnava
  2. Doctoral Student
  3. Seeds of STEM
  4. https://seedsofstem.org/
  5. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Facilitators’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 12, 2019 | 06:47 p.m.

    Thank you for your interest in Seeds of STEM: a Problem-based STEM Curriculum for Preschool Classrooms.

    We are excited about this project because:

    • It teaches young children the skills of problem solving
    • It provides teachers with the problem-solving pedagogy that can be applied to any situation
    • It provides much needed research on early childhood STEM
    • Seeds of STEM turns problems into opportunities

    We look forward to your feedback, questions, and sharing of ideas!

     

    ** Want to learn more? We will host a 2-day PD exploring the Seeds of STEM curriculum on July 10-11, 2019 @ WPI.
    Please contact Mia Dubosarsky (mdubosarsky@wpi.edu) for more information.

  • Icon for: Anne Kern

    Anne Kern

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 18, 2019 | 08:54 p.m.

    Hello Mia,

    It is good to see you in this forum. I am a facilitator this year, I hope to create a presentation next for our new NSF-ITST project, "Voices to Hear". I am still at the University of Idaho. visit me sometime. 

    Let me know how you are doing!

    Best,

    Anne (akern@uidaho.edu)

     

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2019 | 01:37 p.m.

    Hi Anne,

    So good to hear from you! 
    Congrats on being a facilitator on such an impressive project - first time for me. 
    Would love to visit and catch up. 

    You are welcome to Worcester if you are in the area :)

    Mia

  • Icon for: Kenneth Huff

    Kenneth Huff

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 06:38 a.m.

    Your work in this Seeds of STEM project to address problem solving in pre-school students is laudable.  How did you determine the 8 different units of the project?  Are the units sequenced in any particular order to build upon one another? Thank you. 

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 09:10 a.m.

    Thanks for your questions, Kenneth. 
    Prior to the development of the curriculum, the team created a framework for high-quality early childhood STEM experiences (adapted from Pinnell et al., 2013). One of the criteria is alignment with standards. Therefore, the Seeds of STEM curriculum outcomes were created by reviewing and comparing several sets of standards, including the MA Pre-K STE standards, NGSS kindergarten performance expectations, Common Core math standards for kindergarten, and the Head Start Framework. The topics of the 8 units as well as the problem solving skill expectations were derived from these standards. 

    To your second question, the Seeds of STEM units do build on each other. The first 5 units teaches the steps of the engineering design process, while the last 3 units have teachers help students lead the process themselves. See the Curriculum Overview for details. 

  • Icon for: Maura Curran

    Maura Curran

    Researcher
    May 13, 2019 | 10:36 a.m.

     This is really interesting work! I know you are still in the process of analyzing child outcomes - what are you looking at in terms of outcome measures for child learning?

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 01:43 p.m.

    Thanks for your question, Maura. 

    We are looking for improved vocabulary and problem solving skills for children who experienced the Seeds of STEM curriculum. We have developed the EPCOT instrument (Engineering skills in Preschool Children Observation Tool, tentative name) which we follow to score children's behaviors and use of vocabulary through videos. 

    Specifically, we are looking for the following behaviors:  
    1. Describing/recognizing Scientific Phenomena:
    The extent to which children can recognize the scientific phenomenon that underlies the problem.
    2. Identifying the problem:
    The extent to which children can articulate a problem and its implications.
    3. Obtaining information/asking questions:
    The extent to which children ask questions about the scientific phenomenon, or about trying to understand the problem.
    4. Brainstorming:
    The extent to which children can draw on self and others’ knowledge and observations to come up with multiple solutions
    5. Solution planning:
    The extent to which children can develop a plan for the design of the solution using simple materials/equipment and investigate materials as needed
    6. Solution creating and testing: The extent to which children can work with others to select and use materials to build the solution, implement the design, and gather data on the effectiveness of the solution
    7. Sharing findings:
    The extent to which children can communicate the entire problem solving and design process, articulate findings, and state conclusions to peers and teachers
    8. Using the Engineering Design Process: The extent to which children can use the engineering wheel to communicate and elaborate on the problem-solving process
    9. Frequency of problem-solving vocabulary use: Problem, Solve/Solving, Solution, Engineer, Brainstorm/Think, Idea, Choose, Plan, Design, Create, Build, Revise, Improve, Share

     
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    Maura Curran
  • Icon for: Maura Curran

    Maura Curran

    Researcher
    May 13, 2019 | 05:01 p.m.

    Thanks, that's very interesting! Our work focuses on children with language disorder & how to address language skills as a way to improve science learning - I always find it interesting just how much language skill is required for a lot of meaningful science learning outcomes in young kids!

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 05:11 p.m.

    True!

    Many of the young children in the classrooms are dual language learners and do not speak English at home. I hope our teachers will be able to share some of the cases in which the children learned to converse in 'engineering' because they were so excited to help Panda solve the problem. 

  • Icon for: Colleen Bostwick

    Colleen Bostwick

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 09:57 p.m.

    This makes me think of one of my favorite experiences with the Seeds of STEM curriculum. This memory showed me engineering can push past language boundaries.  I had two boys working for days on building a solution, at first independently then combining their solutions into one.  They had particular struggles cutting and manipulated the tape.  I could of helped out but i choose to watch them push through.  When it came time to test, their solution fail.  The next day they went back to work again with struggling manipulating the tools, but they pushed through.  Again they brought their solution to be tested again but this time it was success. These two boys were invested in their solution and working together and neither of these boys spoke the other's language.  One boys was mostly Arabic speaking and the other Spanish.  

    I am also interested in the the role language play young children's science learning.  I was apart of a cohort of teachers that looked at the impact of inquiry skills and vocabulary acquisition in regards to hands on science.  We had favoring data for vocabulary growth but struggled to find meaningful data looking at inquiry skills. We found it was very challenging to authentically asses children's science learning.

    To me, young children may not yet have the developmental abilities to express the complexities of science topics but may have some understanding that may be evident with observation of behavior.  

     
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    Mia Dubosarsky
  • Icon for: Christine Cunningham

    Christine Cunningham

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 01:28 p.m.

    I love the idea of having Problem Panda appear for the engineering lessons—clearly the children do too! Engineering is new to the preschool level. I’m wondering what some of the biggest challenges were that you faced in doing engineering with children (and teachers)? Also, what surprised you most about doing your activities with children? Were there things that the children were capable of that you were not expecting?

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 05:27 p.m.

    Thanks for these questions, Christine. 
    We sure had a boatload of challenges.

    In terms of curriculum development, we kept hearing from teachers who tested the curriculum in their classrooms, that there need to be more hands on experiences for since the problem solving process may be abstract. The development team was challenged to come up with ways to model the abstract concepts through physical experiences. Luckily we had a great development team and advisory board that helped with that. 

    Another challenge was to convince some of the teachers to trust the process. Some of the teachers were skeptical about the notion that preschoolers will be able to follow the engineering design process. However after about 3 units when they heard their children talk about brainstorming, planning, and solving problems they changed their mind. 

    Lastly, we had (and still have) many challenges on the research aspect of the project. Since there are very few research studies on preschool STEM, we had to develop most of the research instruments, including the main assessment observation tool (EPCOT). We definitely followed the design process closely as we had to revise and test the tool multiple times. 

    As for surprises in the classrooms - I'll let Colleen and Suchira share some of their classroom stories :)

  • Icon for: Colleen Bostwick

    Colleen Bostwick

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 09:09 p.m.

    You're right Christine, the children do love Problem Panda. He actually solved a problem that the developer team faced in terms of getting the children excited in solving the posed problem. To the children, he is a friend that needs help.  To the teachers, Problem Panda is a tool to foster engagement from the children in solving the posed problem.  

    A few months after I had completed the Seeds of STEM project, I had accidentally left Problem Panda out on a table in my classroom. A group of children found him and started searching for a problem.  Problem Panda had some dried glue globs on his fur and they decided that had to be 'the problem.'  Independently they worked through the different steps of the engineering design process using the engineering wheel.  

    At my school, 80% of the children are duel language learner, meaning they speak another language other than English at home.  It was a challenge to ensure that all the learners in my class understood what the posed problem was.  To help overcome this challenge, we designing problems that the children can not only solve but also experience within the classroom. 

     
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    Mia Dubosarsky
  • Icon for: Sara Lacy

    Sara Lacy

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 03:56 p.m.

    Thanks for this interesting video.   

    Would you provide more detail about gains you found in teacher outcomes? What do you think accounted for teacher gains?

     

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 10:28 p.m.

    Hi Sara, 
    We used several measures to evaluate the impact of teaching the Seeds of STEM curriculum on teachers' knowledge, practice, and self efficacy. To assess teachers knowledge we used a project-developed assessment that looked into teachers' conceptions of integrated STEM, engineering, the engineering design process (EDP), and vocabulary associated with problem solving. We found that teachers who taught the entire Seeds of STEM curriculum had a better understanding of the EDP and associated vocabulary, as well as what constitutes high quality STEM experiences, compared with teachers who taught only one unit of the curriculum. 

    In terms of practice and self efficacy of teaching STEM and problem solving we adapted the Friday Institute Teacher STEM survey, again teachers who taught the entire Seeds of STEM curriculum improved their own initial scores and also had higher gains compared with control teachers, who only taught one unit of the curriculum as an assessment unit. 

    In addition to these pre/post surveys we conducted interviews with 9 teachers. The qualitative analysis (currently in its last phase) provides rich details regarding the teachers' gains. For example, the analysis show that they learned about curriculum, STEM, and new ways of teaching and presenting materials to children. Teachers commented that Seeds of STEM showed them how much the students can actually learn and how to keep them engaged while doing so. 

    Teachers also commented about using the problem-solving visual and pedagogy in other situations, for example to solve social problems. The teachers found the process useful for engaging children in solving disputes by asking them to discuss the problem, brainstorm solutions, try to follow their solutions, and if it doesn't work think of a different solution to the problem. 

    As for the second question, I think that the structure of the curriculum, the repetition of the process helped both the teachers feel comfortable with the problem solving process - for which some teachers told us they knew very little about. 

     
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    Kim Koin
  • Icon for: Kim Koin

    Kim Koin

    Informal Educator
    May 13, 2019 | 04:58 p.m.

    I love the focus on open-ended problem solving for preschoolers (yes, they can engage in engineering!) Can you please describe some of the ways teachers approached "intro to engineering design" with the students?

     

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 09:40 p.m.

    Thanks for your question, Kim. 

    During the first unit, which lasts 2-3 weeks, the children are introduced to the problem solving process through songs, stories, games, and solving problems around the classroom. First, teachers helps children understand the key words, problems & solutions, by assembling a box of 'problems', such as a car with missing wheel, a broken pencil, and a marker with no cap. The children are then engage in solving these and other problems. Later, the children are asked to identify and solve problems in books, or around the classroom (designing a chair for Mr. Potato Head). During the second week the children are introduced to the problem solving visual through a curriculum developed story about Problem Panda, in which the children follow the process to free Panda from a box. 

    The children love these experiences and being empowered to solve problems. Teachers embrace the approach of turning problems into opportunities. 

     
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    Kim Koin
  • Icon for: Kim Koin

    Kim Koin

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2019 | 10:02 a.m.

    I love how you are describing the EDP also being used for solving social problems and "turning problems into opportunities!" So much of learning overlaps and flows into other parts of our lives. I'm happy to see the Making/Tinkering/STEM movement helping people young and old practice productive responses to failure!

  • Icon for: Colleen Bostwick

    Colleen Bostwick

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 09:20 p.m.

    Thank you for acknowledging the competent minds of our young learners, Kim. 

    During the first unit of Seeds of STEM, the children focus on simple solving a problem together.  This problem does not relay heavily on science content knowledge as in the units following.  One main goal in the beginning is to introduce the engineering wheel and build vocabulary. 

     
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    Kim Koin
  • Icon for: Kim Koin

    Kim Koin

    Informal Educator
    May 14, 2019 | 10:07 a.m.

    I love the idea of first focusing on problem solving at first rather than science content knowledge. The action of solving a problem being the focus!

    I work at the Tinkering Lab at Chicago Children's Museum- where we mainly serve children 4-10 in our Tinkering programs. We've had some great discussions among our staff around how much science content we need to offer our families, who are typically coming in for a one-time, drop-in, 30 minute visit. We've come up with the idea of "science in service of making." We introduce science content/science vocabulary that helps families solve the problem. For example, we'll talk about wheels and axles, and the need for one or both to rotate, if our challenge is to "make something that rolls."

  • Icon for: Colleen Bostwick

    Colleen Bostwick

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 08:54 a.m.

    Working on the Seeds of STEM opened my eyes to the endless learning and engagement that comes from tinkering within the classroom. I see how invested the young children in my class become to their creations and work through struggles to completed a goal.   Having a drop in program do you ever encounter parents to focused on completed the goal of the project and take over when working with their child? I feel the true learning happened within the process and do you have any experience promoting the value of the process? 

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    Ben Klein

    Parent
    May 14, 2019 | 11:36 a.m.

    Mia, you rock!

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 12:51 p.m.

    <3
    Thanks for watching!

     

     

  • Icon for: Kathy Huncosky

    Kathy Huncosky

    Professional Learning Specialist
    May 15, 2019 | 08:53 a.m.

    I have been working in the education world for my entire career - at the elementary level. My daughter recently graduated from college and teaches at a preschool. She is trying to incorporate science lessons at least 2-3 times per week. Is Seeds of STEM available for purchase? Is the curriculum still being developed? 

    Thank you for sharing your work!

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2019 | 05:37 p.m.

    Hi Kathy, 

    Thanks for visiting our page!
    We are in the process of finalizing the latest version (#7) after additions from the wonderful Marisa Garcia, who incorporated teachers' feedback and embedded more math standards and activities to the curriculum. 
    The final version will be available as PDF documents, or printed for those who attend the 2-day PD on July 10-11. 
    The PD is subsidized by the IES grant and will allow preschool teachers/administrators to unpack the problem-solving process and work with colleagues to review all 8 Seeds of STEM units. 

    Please have your daughter email me (mdubosarsky@wpi.edu) about the PD or the curriculum. Our team will also travel to schools who are interested in conducting PD with a large number of teachers. 

    Thanks!

    Mia

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    Shelese

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2019 | 11:03 a.m.

    Great video! The entire project was a great learning experience, not only for the children but us educators here at The QCC Children's School. Problem Panda being a tangible object really gave the children an opportunity to be independent thinkers, communicators and problem solvers! We learned a great deal about their individual strengths and ability to plan and follow through on their ideas. The children worked collaboratively and used so many inquiry skills over the weeks in finding a solution. Mia, thank you so much for including us!

     
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    Suchira Channoi
  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 06:39 p.m.

    Thanks, Shelese!
    It was great having the QCC Children's School be part of the project. 
    Have you used the curriculum or components of it following the ending of the pilot study?

  • Small default profile

    Shelese

    K-12 Teacher
    May 17, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.

    Hi Mia,

    We absolutely have, so much so that Problem Panda has become a part of our classroom community! We've also used some of the materials, visuals, and curriculum ideas in our planning since the pilot ended. The children were so invested, it was a great experience so many connections to science and engineering. Thanks again for the opportunity!

  • Icon for: Euisuk Sung

    Euisuk Sung

    Researcher
    May 16, 2019 | 03:37 p.m.

    It is a fantastic project. I appreciate your work exposing engineering to young kids with fun design activities. It is truly valuable work providing young kids with engineering experience at early ages. Our study found that the early engineering programs have less knowledge and a lot of fun while the programs for older grades have much knowledge and less fun. I believe your project serve as a foundation of STEM pipeline through early engineering exposure. Great work!

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 09:48 p.m.

    Thank you, Euisuk. 
    We indeed attempted to keep the rigor with the fun. Seeds of STEM units are aligned with preschool STE standards and includes multiple opportunities to practice math, art, and movement (and of course ELA) in context. 

    Thank for visiting our presentation.  

  • Icon for: James Liszka

    James Liszka

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2019 | 08:43 a.m.

    Hi Mia,

    I enjoyed your video very much. We have a similar project, The Common Problem Project, but addressed to  undergraduates. We use cross-disciplinary teams of students to address real-world problems in the region. We invite you to look at our video. It might be beneficial to compare notes on problem-solving concepts, heuristics and strategies for students.

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2019 | 09:58 p.m.

    Hi James, 

    I enjoyed your video (will leave a comment on your page as well). My University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), emphasizes problem solving throughout the undergraduate studies. in addition to several humanities-STEM integrated courses, all WPI undergrads are required to complete two 9-credit projects during the junior year (outside of their major) and senior year (major focused project). 

    In addition students have an opportunity to engage in the Great Problems Seminar during their freshman year. 

    Similar to your project, the students credits the WPI projects with providing them with the collaboration and problem-solving skills required on the job. I am sure that your students have provided similar feedback.  More info, here: https://www.wpi.edu/project-based-learning/global-project-program

     

  • Icon for: Susmitha Wunnava

    Susmitha Wunnava

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2019 | 01:05 p.m.

    As a research assistant/doctoral student working on the Seeds of STEM project, I have learned a great deal about early childhood education research firsthand. Visiting the Head Start classrooms, communicating with the teachers and observing the impact of the curriculum on the little children was incredible and the most rewarding experience. Being a mother of two kids, this experience further strengthened my view on introducing STEM education to children early on.

     
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    Mia Dubosarsky
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    Wunnava Kumar

    Parent
    May 18, 2019 | 07:42 a.m.

    Nice inciative 

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    Padmavathi Devi

    Parent
    May 18, 2019 | 07:58 a.m.

    Nice

  • Icon for: Suchira Channoi

    Suchira Channoi

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2019 | 12:33 p.m.

    Thank you everyone for taking time and watching our video. This project is such an eye opening experience for me on how to incorporate STEM and teach engineering for pre-k children. From the beginning to the end, I’ve grown so much as a teacher and have found a deep passion STEM and engineering in teaching  young children. The Seeds of STEM project showed me that young children are capable and are natural problem solvers.

    Recently I was reminded that the children participating in Seed of STEM are building skills for life. I had one little girl that was in my class a few years ago and after she left to go to kindergarten I was able to reconnect with her again a year later. During our conversation she told me, “Remember that I was an engineer when I was in your class because I helped Problem Panda solve problems.” That was one of the prodest teaching moments for me that she can recall her knowledge and able to express it a year later.

    I’ve continued to use the curriculum in my classroom especially incorporating the engineering design process throughout the curriculum. The children love to identify the problems and figure out that ways to solves them. Since I incorporated the Seeds of STEM I have observed a reduction in behavioral issues overall.  The Seeds of STEM has been a success for me personally as well as for the children in my class. The curriculum has boosted the children’s confident as an individual and group. I’m very proud to be part of this wonderful project!

     
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    Mia Dubosarsky
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    Sema Ervin

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2019 | 01:56 a.m.

    Pre-school engineers! They look so cute as they try to solve Panda's problems. 
    We look forward to having access to details of each module so we can use them here on the Princes' Islands in Turkey. We offer "Math is Fun" workshops as after school activity such as this (http://www.heybelicesaret.org.tr/learning-geometry-with-origami/). We could see ourselves partnering with you to test the material here. Keep up good work. 

  • Icon for: Mia Dubosarsky

    Mia Dubosarsky

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2019 | 10:09 p.m.

    Thank you, Sema. 

    Your after school activities look wonderful. Our curriculum is designed for preschool children, however I am sure that you will be able to adapt the experiences and problems for older students. One the units are ready to share I will be happy to share with you electronically. Please email me at mdubosarsky@wpi.edu 

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