The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report emphasizes the importance of an early introduction to science and engineering, and calls on policymakers to ensure these topics are taught comprehensively in preschool through fifth grade.
“Preschool through fifth grade is a unique and critical window for kids to engage with science and engineering, and it’s clear we need policies that can give all students access to this opportunity,” said Elizabeth Davis, professor at the University of Michigan School of Education and chair of the committee that wrote the report Science and Engineering in Preschool through Elementary Grades.
The report cites national survey data which shows that science and engineering instruction is not prioritized in the same way subjects like mathematics and language arts are in elementary education. However, Science and Engineering in Preschool through Elementary Grades argues that even young children can ask questions and make sense of their world in sophisticated ways. By connecting them with engineering and science concepts early in their educational careers, students can develop proficiency in these areas.
“To make sure every student in the U.S. receives their best shot at excelling in these areas and experiences the joy and wonder of science and engineering, we need to improve curriculum materials, design effective learning environments, and support our educators with resources and meaningful learning opportunities,” said Davis.