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




By Hsiu-Wen Yang,  PhD 

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

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:


E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of stem4ec to add comments!

Join stem4ec


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

Read More >

Rebekah S McGaughey is now a member of stem4ec
15 hours ago
STEMIE Center posted a blog post
Read the blog post written by Dr. Jessica Amsbary, and learn how to use blocks to foster future coding skills. 

Dr. Jessica Amsbary

About the authors:
Jessica Amsbary, PhD is a Technical Assistance Specialist at FPG Child Development Institute…
Carol von Brandt commented on STEMIE Center's blog post Supporting Young Children’s Science Learning at Home
"We talk about fractions and measurment at meals"
Carol von Brandt is now a member of stem4ec
Stacy Lakey is now a member of stem4ec
Jan 13
katelyn Lemmon and Jeanette Martinez joined stem4ec
Jan 12
brian woodward is now a member of stem4ec
Jan 11
Ramon Pinto liked STEMIE Center's blog post Presentando la Serie Rompiendo Mitos de STEMIE
Jan 9
Ramon Pinto liked STEMIE Center's blog post Rompiendo Mitos Serie # 2: Las habilidades de lenguaje y alfabetización son más importantes que el conocimiento y las habilidades de CTIM
Jan 9
Ramon Pinto is now a member of stem4ec
Jan 9
Montserrat Torra posted a status
I am working with the learning trajectories of mathematics of Clemens and Sarama at CESIRE the science colleagues were asking if there was any proposal for trajectories in science and that is why I have contacted you.
Jan 4
Montserrat Torra is now a member of stem4ec
Jan 4
STEMIE Center posted a blog post
¿Quieres saber cómo involucrar a los niños en STEM virtualmente? ¡Nos complace invitar a la Dra. Mere-Cook a compartir algunas de sus experiencias con nosotros!

Escrito por Yvette Mere-Cook

Yvette Mere-Cook tiene un doctorado en Educación…
Dec 13, 2021
STEMIE Center posted a blog post
Estamos entusiasmados de lanzar CTIM talkABLE, una plataforma para que las personas con discapacidades y sus familias, compañeros, colegas, maestros puedan compartir sus historias y el viaje de aprendizaje de CTIM.
En este primer episodio del…
Dec 13, 2021
Maide Orcan-Kacan is now a member of stem4ec
Dec 9, 2021
Elica Sharifnia is now a member of stem4ec
Dec 6, 2021

Community Guidelines and Privacy Statement