Children have a marvelous sense of wonder and exploration. They are interested in the natural world and enjoy asking questions about the world around them. When we nurture this sense of wonderment we can help to create scientific thinkers who explore, experiment and think logically. The promoters of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education see science education, even in the early years, as a means to improving educational outcomes.
To develop scientific thinking skills, children need to be actively engaged in exploring with different materials, talking about their observations, and reading or listening to stories that encourage asking questions, interpreting and looking for different solutions. The initial science units build on each other as children learn about their bodies, then about self-care and their senses. Children use all of their senses in their explorations as they observe, collect, interpret and record data and draw conclusions. As young children consciously use their senses, they become more aware of their surroundings and begin to understand and appreciate their environment.
In the latter part of Year 1 and in Year 2, many of the activities introduce children to the scientific method. A question or problem is proposed, children are asked to predict an answer or what will happen, an experiment or exploration is conducted, and then children analyze the results and are encouraged to summarize what they learned. The inquiring minds of preschoolers make this a prime time to begin introducing children to these processes that will help them learn about themselves and the world around them.