Today, on National STEM Day, we commend bipartisan work being done in congress to promote STEM education for children of all ages. One bill in particular, the ‘Building Blocks of STEM Act,’ would direct funding to research in education initiatives for young children for whom early learning and investment in STEM is essential. This bill was introduced by Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in the Senate, alongside Representatives Jim Baird (R-IN) and Haley Stevens (D-MI) in the House.
Children’s brains are built and grow through touch, talk, sight and sound in early childhood experiences. This experiential learning starts long before a child steps foot into kindergarten and is strengthened through regular interaction and stimulation in the home and in quality early learning settings. Parents, teachers and caregivers can build on a child’s natural curiosity by developing their interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Young children experience STEM through exploration, play, and building curiosity about the natural world and the way things work. For example, children learn about the concept of technology when they’re exploring tools or simple machines and investigating how they work. These can be items they use every day like a pair of scissors, or things they might see like the wheels of a car as they walk outside.
We were thrilled when this bipartisan, bicameral legislation was passed by the House in July of this year, proving that both parties are focused on creating STEM-based educational opportunities for young learners. H.R. 1665 and S. 737 would direct the National Science Foundation (NSF) to be more conscious of age distribution when awarding grants under the Discovery Research PreK-12 program to ensure that programs focused on early childhood receive equitable funding.
Creative and age appropriate STEM activities employ active, play-like lessons to allow children to become invested in projects and view their classmates as teammates. The foundations of math and science children absorb through STEM education are the building blocks they use to become engaged, adaptable, and curious adults. This bill also promotes the involvement of girls in STEM from an early age as this field has often lagged behind in terms of gender equity.
“I’m thrilled to see my colleagues in the House take a much-needed step to close the gender gap in science and tech, which will ensure our country continues to lead in STEM,” said Senator Rosen. “This bill will help our children receive the quality education and training that they need to succeed, building a stronger workforce that will prepare us for a 21st century economy. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate so that we can pass this forward-thinking legislation and sign it into law.”
With technology rapidly changing, it is important that students are prepared for the future. This is why investment in STEM starting in Pre-K promotes hands on learning and utilizes fundamental skills that can be adapted to a number of subjects, studies, and careers later in life.