Mythbuster (7)

Fact: Assistive technology ranges from low-tech aids, such as grasping supports, to specialized high-tech supports, such as an augmentative communication system, based on the individualized needs of the child.


Victoria Waters, M.Ed. is an Educational Consultant at UNC’s FPG Child Development Institute and Outreach Manager for STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE).

12420270271?profile=RESIZE_180x180Chih-Ing Lim, Ph.D. is a Senior Technical Assistance Specialist at UNC’s FPG Child Development Institute and Co-director of the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE).

12420270288?profile=RESIZE_180x180Ann Sam, Ph.D. is a Senior Research Scientist at UNC’s FPG Child Development Institute and Technical Assistance Specialist for STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE).

Positive and inclusive STEM learning opportunities are essential for all young children, as interest in and belief in their ability to succeed in STEM fields forms at a young age (Early STEM Working Group, 2017). For young children with disabilities (birth to five), the use of assistive technology (AT) may be needed to provide access to STEM learning opportunities. Combining AT with effective teaching can promote children’s participation in learning (Winton, Buysse, Rous, Epstein, & Pierce, 2011). A common myth about AT is that it has to be an expensive high-tech electronic device, such as a tablet (US Department of Education, 2024). This is not the case. In fact, AT is the use of “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities” (Sandall et al., 2005). In other words, AT spans from low-tech aids such as visual cues and grasping supports that are usually created by families, teachers, or therapists, to mid-tech supports, such as button switches and standers to high-tech supports such as custom-built augmentative  communication device  and powered wheelchairs.

The following table provides examples of low-tech to high-tech AT devices/interventions that are most commonly used to support young children (birth to five) with disabilities in accessing learning opportunities.

 Assistive Tech


Low-tech (typically do not require batteries, are inexpensive, and are created by families, teachers, or therapists)

·  Visual cues (e.g., colored borders, visual schedules)

·  Tactile outlines

·  Communication boards/binders (e.g., PECS)

·  Grasping supports (e.g., page turners using popsicle sticks)

·  Stabilizing mats/low trays

Mid-tech (generally need a power source but are generally inexpensive)

·  Speech-generating device (e.g., fixed displays, button switches, talking keyboards)

·  Apps

·  Timer

·  Switch-access device (i.e., to operate toys or other electronic devices)

High-tech (typically require a power source, are tailored to the young child’s specific needs, and can be pricey)

·  Augmentative communication device (i.e., dynamic and custom built)

·  Powered wheelchair

·  Tablet/Laptop

 Adapted from Qahmash, 2018, The IRIS Center, 2010; 2020, Waters et al., 2022, and STEMIE, 2023

Be sure to check out:




Read more…

 Welcome back to our Mythbuster Series. In this blog post, Dr. Mere-Cook will talk about why young children are capable of engineering!

About the author: Dr. Yvette Mere-Cook has been working with children with disabilities and their families for over 20 years as an early intervention and preschool based occupational therapist.  Having earned a Doctorate in Special Education from the University of San Francisco in 2016, Dr. Mere-Cook examines instructional practices, innovative approaches, and sensory-based strategies that support the inclusion of young children with disabilities within learning environments.  This work includes embedding the engineering design process within inclusive preschool classrooms. Currently, Dr. Mere-Cook engages in modeling best practices, teaching undergraduate students, and conducting applied research within the Early Childhood Lab at University of California, Davis's Department of Human Ecology.  

Myth: Engineering is a highly specialized skill and too difficult for young children to comprehend

Fact: Engineering involves solving problems through asking questions, exploring materials, creating solutions, and improving these solutions (Blank & Lynch, 2018;  Linder et al., 2016; Museum of Science, Boston, 2018). Research suggests that young children engage in this engineering design process during everyday play (Blank & Lynch, 2018). In fact, a study by Lippard, Lamm, Tank, and Choi (2019) identified three key engineering habits of mind or ways of thinking that preschoolers demonstrated within the art, block, sensory, and dramatic play spaces of the classroom. 

Engineering Habits of Mind

tape, hand, pencil

  • Systems Thinking: Children combined materials to create solutions.  In doing so, they engaged in figuring out how objects relate and connect to one another, contributing to their understanding of how things work. Example: In the art area, a child created an envelope out of paper to hold smaller pieces of paper. When she shook her envelope, all of the small pieces fell out. She grabbed a stapler to close the sides further (IMPROVE . . . read below)

 (Image from Adobe Stock Photos) 

  • Optimism: Children demonstrated perseverance and viewed solving problems and improving solutions as part of their play, such as in the example above. 
  • Collaboration: Children actively sought the help of peers when working on solutions.  Example:  a child asked a friend to hold the other end of a measuring tape

two boys are using a ruler for drawing

Interestingly, Lippard and colleagues (2019) discovered that these habits of mind appeared more often when early childhood educators actively engaged and nurtured children’s engineering thinking during play.  

What You Can Do:  Here are some ways to engage and nurture children’s engineering thinking:

  • Help Find Problems: Coming up with problems to solve can be tricky at times for young children (Blank & Lynch, 2018).  Therefore, teachers can help children think of real- world problems that can spark solutions.  One way is to involve children in any design challenges that your classroom or center is undertaking, such as creating or improving outdoor spaces (Blank & Lynch, 2018). 

 a girl is wondering why

Another way to spark children’s engagement in problem solving, is to present engineering design challenges based on stories that you read. For instance, in the book, Kate Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon & Lee White, the story focuses on how Kate solved her neighbor’s problem of having too much wind blow everything inside and outside of his home.  You can read this story to the children and then invite them to create their own structures that could withstand wind power. (Garton Scanlon & Lee, 2018)

  • Intentionally Introduce Materials and Tools: Reflect on the materials that you have available for your children in your learning spaces. 
    • How would children use different classroom materials, including loose parts and recyclables? (Loose parts are open-ended materials either found in nature, such as leaves and pinecones or everyday items found at home such as boxes and milk caps (Gull et al., 2019)
    • What adaptations would I need to make for children with fine motor challenges?
    • How would they combine these materials together?
    • What tools would they need and what alternatives could I provide to ensure that all young learners create their solutions? (i.e., loop scissors, small pieces of painters’ tape, double sided tape).
    • Where in the classroom, would these materials be located to nurture children’s creative problem solving? Perhaps pinecones could be accessed near both the block area and dramatic play space?
  • Notice and Ask: Children’s engagement in the improve process is critical when nurturing engineering habits of mind. 
    • Notice how they approach creating their solutions. If building a house to withstand wind power from the example above, you may comment, “I notice that you used a large block on the bottom and taped the paper towel roll to the block.” 
    • Ask open ended questions to extend their thinking and perhaps get them thinking of different ways to improve their solution (Strasser & Mufson Bresson, 2015; Waters & Lim, 2021). For instance, after noticing that they used tape, you could ask, “I wonder what would happen if you taped the large block to the table? How would the wind affect your structure?
  • Expand Engineering Challenges: Children’s building and creating solutions does not need to end in one day. Here are some practical solutions for expanding their engagement in the engineering design process that encourages them to think deeply about their solutions, connect these to real-world book cover of wind energyexperiences, and engage in the improve process. (Alkire, 2019) 
    • Allow time to engage in the engineering design process
    • Create a space for items that are not done, yet
    • Include non-fiction books that are related to the problem-solving challenge. For example, you can include books on weather and wind power to complement the problem that Kate was trying to solve, in the book by Garton Scanlon & Lee, 2018).
    • Invite children to listen to and feel the wind during an outdoor walk or hike



Alkire, J. (2019).  Wind Energy:  Putting the Air to Work.  Abdo Publishing

Blank, J. & Lynch, S. (2018).  Growing in STEM:  The design process:  engineering practices in preschool.  Young Children (73), 4.  Retrieved from

Garton Scanlon, L. & White, L. (2018).  Kate, Who Tamed the Wind. Schwartz & Wade Books

Gull, C., Bogunovich, J., Levenson Goldstein, S., & Rosengarten, T. (2019).  Definitions of loose parts in early childhood outdoor classrooms: 

A scoping review. The International Journal of Early Childhood

Environmental Education, 6(3), 37-52.  Retrieved from

Linder, S.M., A.M. Emerson, B. Heffron, E. Shevlin, A. Vest, & A. Eckhoff. 2016. “STEM Use in Early Childhood Education: Viewpoints from the Field.” Young Children 71 (3): 87–91.

Lippard, C.N., Lamm, M.H., Tank, K.M., Choi, J.Y. (2019).  Pre-engineering thinking and the engineering habits of mind in preschool classroom. Early Childhood

Education Journal, 47, 187–198. 

Museum of Science, Boston. (2018). The Engineering Design Process.  Engineering is Elementary.

Strasser, J. & Mufson Bresson, L. (2015). Moving beyond the who, what, when, where, and why:  Using Bloom’s Taxonomy questioning to extend preschooler’s thinking. Young Children, 9 (1), Retrieved from

Waters, V. & Lim, C. (2021).  Asking open-ended questions.  STEMIE. Retrieved from

Read more…

Welcome back to our Mythbuster series

This week we invite Dr. Clements and Dr. Sarama to talk about the fourth myth: Children don’t need adult guidance in play (or learning). Let's keep reading and find out why this is a myth and why combining guided free play with intentional, guided-discovery teaching is important. 

mythbuster's logo 

About the Authors
Douglas H. Clements's headshot Douglas H. Clements, Ph.D.
Dr. Clements received his PhD from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Previously a preschool and kindergarten teacher, he has conducted funded research and published over 500 articles and books in the areas of the learning and teaching of early mathematics and computer applications in mathematics education.

Julie Sarama's headshotJulie Sarama, Ph.D.
Dr. Sarama received her PhD from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Dr. Sarama has taught secondary mathematics and computer science, gifted math at the middle school level, preschool and kindergarten mathematics enrichment classes, and mathematics methods and content courses for elementary to secondary teachers. She designed and programmed over 50 published computer programs, including her version of Logo and Logo-based software activities (Turtle Math™, which was awarded Technology & Learning Software of the Year award, 1995, in the category "Math"). 

Myth #4: Children don’t need adult guidance in play (or learning)

“I believe that children learn through play.”

“My philosophy is to let children play. If adults interfere it destroys children’s learning through play.”

Fact: Claiming that “children don’t need adult, including early childhood and early childhood special education practitioners, guidance in play” is a myth is not to say we don’t believe in play. We love play. And we believe children learn through play. However, we also believe it is a false dichotomy that there are but two choices: Unguided free play versus “adult interference” (or “direct instruction”).  Such a false dichotomy makes nuanced use of a variety of developmentally appropriate teaching strategies, such as NAEYC promotes, almost impossible.

Let’s start with free play…and let’s start with something on which we hope everyone can agree: Child-directed play is a rich context for learning and adults can interfere with its benefits if they enter it without observing and without carefully considering what the children are doing.

But should adults always stay away? No. Research is clear that guided play is better for children. For example, teaching strategies that optimize make-believe play have been proven successful in improving young children’s self-regulation competencies and academic achievement1,2,3. This approach imbues dramatic, make-believe play with supports that strengthen the development of self-regulation. Adults guide children on the development of imagination, the ability to sustain and create pretend scenarios, a set of roles and the use of language to plan and organize play ahead of time.

This is why we have educated, expert practitioners–not just to set up and get out of the way—but to observe, interpret, interact, and then change the environment and interactions when that would benefit children.

How about STEM?  Do children “do” STEM in their play–and what should adults do about STEM and play?

Perhaps surprisingly, in their free play, Children engage in substantial amounts of foundational STEM skills as they explore patterns, shapes, and spatial relations; compare magnitudes; engineer with various materials; and explore scientific phenomena and concepts.4,5,6  Let’s use mathematical play as an example. Observations of preschoolers show that when they play, they engage in mathematical thinking at least once in almost half of each minute of play. Almost 9/10 of children engage in at one or more math activities during free play episodes.6

This mathematical play reveals intuitive knowledge of many concepts that most people think young children cannot understand, from arithmetic to parallelism and right angles. Unfortunately, these same children may not understand these concepts when they arrive in middle school. If they are not helped to mathematize (reflect on, give language to—more later) their early “theorems in action”,7 the ideas do not become theorems in thought. Adults need to help children learn the language of mathematics. Similarly, while children innately explore the world around them, and take pleasure in building with different materials, and making patterns, adults also need to help them learn engineering habits of mind, the language of coding, and scientific practices.

Many adults believe that such scaffolding will harm children’s play. These concerns are misplaced. Content-rich teaching increases the quality of young children's play. For example, children in classrooms with stronger emphasis on literacy or math are more likely to engage at a higher quality of social-dramatic play.8 The new ideas energize high-level play activity. Thus, high-quality instruction in STEM and high-quality free play do not have to “compete” for time in the classroom. Doing both makes each richer. Unfortunately, many adults believe that "open-ended free play" is good and "lessons" in STEM are not.9,10 They do not believe that preschoolers need specific teaching.11 They do not realize that they are depriving their children both of the joy and fascination of STEM, but higher-quality free play as well.12

Combining guided free play with intentional, guided-discovery teaching13 and promoting play with STEM objects and STEM ideas is pedagogically powerful play.12,14,15


  1. Barnett, W. S., Yarosz, D. J., Thomas, J., & Hornbeck, A. (2006). Educational effectiveness of a Vygotskian approach to preschool education: A randomized trial: National Institute of Early Education Research.
  2. Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2005). Self-Regulation as a key to school readiness: How can early childhood teachers promote this critical competency? In M. Zaslow & I. Martinez-Beck (Eds.), Critical issues in early childhood professional development (pp. 203–224). Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
  3. Bodrova, E., Leong, D. J., Norford, J., & Paynter, D. (2003). It only looks like child’s play. Journal of Staff Development, 24(2), 47–51.
  4. Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2016). Math, science, and technology in the early grades. The Future of Children, 26(2), 75–94.
  5. Sarama, J., & Clements, D. H. (2018). Promoting positive transitions through coherent instruction, assessment, and professional development: The TRIAD scale-up model. In A. J. Mashburn, J. LoCasale-Crouch & K. Pears (Eds.), Kindergarten readiness (pp. 327-348). New York, NY: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-90200-5_15
  6. Seo, K.-H., & Ginsburg, H. P. (2004). What is developmentally appropriate in early childhood mathematics education? In D. H. Clements, J. Sarama & A.-M. DiBiase (Eds.), Engaging young children in mathematics: Standards for early childhood mathematics education (pp. 91–104). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  7. Vergnaud, G. (1978). The acquisition of arithmetical concepts. In E. Cohors-Fresenborg & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 2nd Conference of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. 344–355). Osnabruck, Germany.
  8. Aydogan, C., Plummer, C., Kang, S. J., Bilbrey, C., Farran, D. C., & Lipsey, M. W. (2005, June 5-8). An investigation of prekindergarten curricula: Influences on classroom characteristics and child engagement. Paper presented at the NAEYC, Washington, DC.
  9. Sarama, J. (2002). Listening to teachers: Planning for professional development. Teaching Children Mathematics, 9(1), 36–39.
  10. Sarama, J., & DiBiase, A.-M. (2004). The professional development challenge in preschool mathematics. In D. H. Clements, J. Sarama & A.-M. DiBiase (Eds.), Engaging young children in mathematics: Standards for early childhood mathematics education (pp. 415–446). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
  11. Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2009). Learning and teaching early math: The learning trajectories approach. New York, NY: Routledge.
  12. Sarama, J., & Clements, D. H. (2009). Building blocks and cognitive building blocks: Playing to know the world mathematically. American Journal of Play, 1(3), 313–337.
  13. Baroody, A. J., Purpura, D. J., Eiland, M. D., & Reid, E. E. (2015). The impact of highly and minimally guided discovery instruction on promoting the learning of reasoning strategies for basic add-1 and doubles combinations. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 30, Part A(0), 93–105. doi:
  14. Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2005a). Math play. Parent & Child, 12(4), 36–45.
  15. Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2005b). Math play: How young children approach math. Early Childhood Today, 19(4), 50–57.
Read more…

Welcome to the third blog post of our MythBuster series.

Last week, we talked about how children’s learning and development in literacy and STEM can be intertwined. This week, we are going to bust a myth that sometimes deters practitioners or families from carrying out STEM activities with young children. 

mythbuster logo 

Hsiuwen Yang's headshot

By Hsiu-Wen Yang,  PhD. 

Postdoctoral Research Associate at STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE)

Chih-Ing Lim's headshot

By Chih-Ing Lim,  PhD.

Co-director of the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE)

Myth 3: STEM learning is too expensive

Fact: You do not need to purchase expensive toys or materials to engage young children in STEM learning. STEM learning opportunities are everywhere, including during daily routines1,2,3,4. For example, cooking or mealtime is a perfect opportunity to engage children in STEM concepts4,5. While preparing snacks, children can count a small number of dry ingredients that you are going to use and bring it to you. Children may also experiment with measuring cups of different sizes, and guess which one holds more, or observe how butter changes from solid to liquid when it melts.

Adults, not toys, are key in children’s development and learning. Adult-child interactions are critical in supporting children’s development across all domains of learning6,7,8. Additionally, adults who are intentional in providing learning experiences and opportunities that balanced self-directed play and adult-facilitated instruction can contribute to children’s development in math9. Young children are active learners and are naturally curious about the world around them. With adults’ support, they can have rich learning opportunities within everyday experiences and without expensive materials or toys.


  1. Tudge, J. R. H. & Doucet, F. (2004). Early mathematical experiences: Observing young Black and White children’s everyday activities. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 19, 21-39.
  2. Andrews, K. J. & Wang, X. C. (2019). Young Children’s emergent science competencies in everyday family contexts: A case study. Early Child Development and Care, 189, 1351-1368.
  3. Lee, J. & Junoh, J. (2019). Implementing unplugged coding activities in early childhood classrooms. Early Childhood Education Journal, 47, 709-716.
  4. Sikder, S., Fleer, M. (2015). Small Science: Infants and Toddlers Experiencing Science in Everyday Family Life. Research in Science Education, 45,445–464.
  5. Susperreguy, M. I. & Davis-Kean, P. E. (2016). Maternal Math Talk in the Home and Math Skills in Preschool Children,Early Education and Development, 27, 841-857.
  6. Hamre, B.K.; Pianta, R.C. (2001). Early teacher-child relationships and the trajectory of children's school outcomes through eighth grade.Child Development, 72, 625–638.
  7. Howes, C.; Fuligni, A.S.; Hong, S.S.; Huang, Y.D.; Lara-Cinisomo, S. (2013). The preschool instructional context and child–teacher relationships.Early Education and Development, 24, 273–291.
  8. Rodriguez, E. T. & Tamis-LeMonda, C. S. (2011). Trajectories of the home learning environment across the first 5years: Associations with children’s vocabulary and literacy Skills at Prekindergarten. Child Development, 82, 1058-1075.
  9. Fuligni, A.S., Howes, C., Huang, Y.D., Hong, S.S., Lara-Cinisomo, S. (2012). Activity settings and daily routines in preschool classrooms: Diverse experiences in early learning settings for low-income children. Early Child. Research Quarterly,27, 198–209.
Read more…

Welcome to our week 2 of MythBuster series.

Last week we debunked the myth that STEM is only for older students or gifted children, and it is too difficult for young children or children with disabilities to understand, this week we will tackle the myth that language and literacy skills are more important than STEM knowledge and skills.


mythbuster logo 

Hsiuwen Yang's headshot

By Hsiu-Wen Yang,  PhD. 

Postdoctoral Research Associate at STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE)

Chih-Ing Lim's headshot

By Chih-Ing Lim,  PhD.

Co-director of the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE)

Myth#2:  Language and Literacy skills are more important than STEM knowledge and skills

Fact: All aspects of children’s development are equally important and intertwined. In fact, STEM and language and literacy can go hand in hand. For example, during shared book reading, children not only develop their language and literacy skills1, but can also learn about math2 or science concepts3. While reading storybooks, adults can ask open-ended questions, pose problems, and discuss STEM concepts with children.4,5 While answering the questions, children will also have opportunities to build their vocabulary and make sense of the plot. Additionally, evidence shows how intricately twined literacy is to STEM, in that children improve their math, early literacy, and reading when they start learning science concepts early.6 Furthermore, early exposure to math content and activities could be a strong predictor of later academic achievement.7

Given these evidence, we know that literacy and STEM are false dichotomies. At STEMIE, we are developing a series of examples on how families can use dialogic reading and make adaptations to the books to have conversations on various STEM topics using some readily available books. Stay tuned for our new series!


  1. Saracho, O. N. (2017). Parents’ shared storybook reading – learning to read. Early Child Development and Care, 187,554-567.
  2. Green, K. B., Gallagher, P. A., & Hart, L. (2018). Integrating Mathematics and Children’s Literature for Young Children With Disabilities. Journal of Early Intervention, 40, 3–19.
  3. Gonzalez, J. E., Pollard-Durodola,S., Simmons, D. C., Taylor, A. B., Davis, M, J., Kim, M., & Simmons, L.(2010). Developing Low-Income Preschoolers’ Social Studies and Science Vocabulary Knowledge Through Content-Focused Shared Book Reading. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 4, 25-52, 
  4. Van den Heuvel-Panhuizen, M. & Elia, I. (2012): Developing a framework for the evaluation of picturebooks that support kindergartners’ learning of mathematics, Research in Mathematics Education, 14, 17–
  5. Pantoya, M. & Aguirre-Munoz, Z. (2017). Inquiry, Talk, and Text: Promising Tools that Bridge STEM Learning for Young English Language Learners. American Society of Engineering Education, 1, 7679-7695. 
  6. Paprzycki, P., Tuttle, N., Czerniak, C. M., Molitor, S., Kadervaek, J., & Mendenhall, R. (2017). The impact of a Framework-aligned science professional development program on literacy and mathematics achievement of K-3 students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 54, 1174-1196.
  7. Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A., Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., ... Japel, C. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology, 43, 1428–1446.



Read more…

Children start developing STEM concepts and skills when they are babies and they know more about STEM than you think. 


mythbuster logo 

Hsiuwen Yang's headshot

By Hsiu-Wen Yang,  PhD 

Postdoctoral Research Associate at STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE)

Chih-Ing Lim's headshotby
Chih-Ing Lim,  PhD.
Co-director of the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE)


Myth #1: STEM is only for older students or gifted children, and it is too difficult for young children or children with disabilities to understand. 

Fact: ALL children, regardless of disability, culture, race/ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status, have the capacity to engage in STEM learning.1,2 In fact, children start developing STEM concepts and skills when they are babies and they know more about STEM than you think.3,4 For example, babies begin by exploring the world using different sense.5 Then, they start making sense of cause and effect through play, observation, or trial and error, which lays the foundation of later STEM thinking skills and problem-solving skills. Also, several researchers have highlighted that toddlers may understand the fundamental aspect of counting, and spatial understanding years earlier than we thought.4,6

High-quality STEM learning experiences and opportunities pave the way for later success in school and in the workplace.7,8 Recognizing that children can start learning the fundamentals of STEM concepts at such a young age, it is important to ensure that young children with a wide range of abilities and from a variety of social backgrounds have access to and can fully participate in high-quality STEM learning opportunities. Children with disabilities often demonstrate a lower level of achievement in STEM not because they cannot learn STEM but because they have fewer STEM opportunities in their home or school.9 By the time children are in high school, participation of children with disabilities in STEM courses is very low.10

Taken together, these sources of evidence tell us that young children with or without disabilities can learn STEM and should not be denied opportunities to high quality early STEM learning experiences.



  1. Clements, D. H., Guernsey, L., McClure, E., Bales, S. N., Nichols, J., &  KendallTaylor, N. (2016, May  31). Fostering STEM trajectories: Background & tools for action. Paper presented at the Eponymous Meeting of New America, Washington, D.C.
  2. Sarama, J., Clements, D. H., Nielsen, , Blanton,  M., Romance, N., Hoover, M., . . . McCulloch, C. (2018). Considerations for STEM education from PreK through grade  3. Retrieved from Education Development Center, Inc. website:
  3. Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum (2016). The Root for STEM success: Changing early learning experiences to build lifelong thinking skills. Retrieved from:
  4. Wang, J. & Feigenson, L. (2019). Infants recognize counting as numerically relevant. Developmental Science, 22: e12805.,
  5. Gopnik, A., Meltzoff, A. N., & Kuhl, P. (2000). The scientist in the crib: What early learning tells us about the mind. New York, NY:  Harper Collins.
  6. Uhlenberg, J.M., Geiken, R. (2020). Supporting Young Children’s Spatial Understanding: Examining Toddlers’ Experiences with Contents and Containers. Early Childhood Education Journal.
  7. Duncan, G. J., Dowsett, C. J., Claessens, A.,  Magnuson, K., Huston, A. C., Klebanov, P., . . . Japel, C. (2007).  School readiness and later achievement.  Developmental Psychology, 43(6), 1428–1446. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.43.6.1428
  8. Duncan, G. J. & Magnuson, K. (2011). The Nature and Impact of Early Achievement Skills, Attention Skills, and Behavior Problems. In G. J. Duncan and R. J. Murnane (eds.), Whither Opportunity: Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children's Life Chances. (PP. 47-69). New York, NY: Russell Sage.
  9. Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC). (2015). Transforming the workforce for children birth through age 8: A unifying foundation. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  10. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection (CDRC). (2018). STEM course taking. Retrieved from:


Read more…

What do you think about when someone asks you about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning for young children?  


mythbuster logo

Hsiuwen Yang's headshot

By Hsiu-Wen Yang,  PhD 

Postdoctoral Research Associate at STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE)

What do you think about when someone asks you about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning for young children?  You may think: 

STEM? Probably not for babies.

“I think we should just focus on talking and reading.”

“Children need to play. STEM is too academic.” 

“It is too difficult for children with disabilities to learn STEM. It is also challenging for me to teach them STEM.”  

Last fall, we asked 29 early childhood STEM experts what were some misconceptions about early STEM learning they have come across in their work. We then analyzed and organized their responses, and searched the literature to debunk the myths and misconceptions with facts.

Read more…
Email me when there are new items in this category –


Hello and welcome to the STEM4EC Community.  We invite your participation.

Read More >

Neena Beena and Romona Haney joined stem4ec
Jun 4
Lucille A. Sleger posted a status
Hello. I am interested in STEM primarily for infants and toddlers ages birth to three, including participation of infants and toddlers with disabilities. I am also interested in STEM for preschool aged children, including participation of children…
May 29
Lucille A. Sleger is now a member of stem4ec
May 29
STEMIE Center posted a blog post
Come and learn about Dr. Jacob and Dr. Hagevik's work on garden-based STEAM learning.

Dr. Mary Ann Jacobs, Full Professor and Chair of AIS at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP)
Dr. Rita Hagevik, Professor and Director of Graduate…
May 21
Cindy Weigel and Amber Gregg joined stem4ec
May 9
Kim Sentell is now a member of stem4ec
May 1
Dr. Brenda Gonzalez is now a member of stem4ec
Apr 18
Renee Harris is now a member of stem4ec
Apr 7
STEMIE Center liked STEMIE Center's blog post My STEM Adventure: Inclusive Educational Gaming for Everyone
Apr 4
STEMIE Center posted a blog post
Fact: Assistive technology ranges from low-tech aids, such as grasping supports, to specialized high-tech supports, such as an augmentative communication system, based on the individualized needs of the child.

Victoria Waters, M.Ed. is an…
Apr 3
Cattleeya Chakkuchan is now a member of stem4ec
Apr 2
Lindsey Smith is now a member of stem4ec
Mar 26
Barbie Jones is now a member of stem4ec
Mar 21
Stacey Camp is now a member of stem4ec
Mar 7
Stephanie De Bear is now a member of stem4ec
Feb 27
Bogumila Ryndak-Mazur is now a member of stem4ec
Feb 15

Community Guidelines and Privacy Statement