Children in the preschool classroom of East Carolina University’s Nancy Darden Child Development Center learned to make slime without a recipe.
Twenty children were engaged in hands-on learning activities, which looked like ordinary play during the first science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) day implemented by ECU students on November 18.
“Learning to make slime without a recipe provided children with the opportunity to explore the difference in texture when more glue or water was added,” said Ashley Norris, instructor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. “The activity was more open ended and placed the child as an active learner.”
Early childhood is an optimal time to learn STEAM concepts because children are natural scientists, according to Norris. These activities support the development of 21st century skills for young children including creative thinking, collaborating with peers and communicating about their discoveries through critical thinking and questioning.
ECU students planned, advertised and implemented the event that included parents. Students worked in groups of four and organized a demonstration day. They received feedback from peers and asked questions about implementation.
Students were tasked with using appropriate scientific vocabulary in their activities such as observe, compare, predict, motion and magnetism.
“Students will leave this class with a tangible skill set of planning and implementing a family activity,” Norris said.
Birth-kindergarten teacher education major Julia Gargis facilitated the painting with magnets activity. “Our goal was to teach the children that magnets use force to push and pull objects,” Gargis said.
Christie Martin attended the event with her 4-year-old daughter, Mira Martoccia. “I loved watching my daughter make slime,” Martin said.
Martin agrees that these experiences are important for children. “They help children to think outside of the box and experiment with activities they do not do on a regular basis.”
The event ended with a Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) seminar for parents and was conducted by Sharon Ballard, chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Science in the College of Health and Human Performance. Triple P is a nationally recognized model aimed at promoting positive relationships between parents and children.
– Kathy Muse