Young children are naturally curious and born to engineer. Testing and reconsidering the world around them using play-based learning, engineering is the natural vehicle for children to learn science and mathematics, in order to design, build, and test their theories. Engineering is perceived as a subject where educators need deep levels of specialization and requires certain curriculum. Most children are not exposed to engineering until middle or secondary level. With the Internet and many 'open sources', questions have been raised about the reliability of curriculum and if engineering with (Birth to Age 8) is even developmentally appropriate. Teachers need a trusted national clearninghouse where P-3 level pedagogically and content-reliable engineering sources exist. In addition, girls and minority students are more likely to develop low-self concept in math and science as they move through elementary school. Engaging all students in engineering in early childhood could stregthen math and science identity; and stop these students leaking out of the STEM pipeline. Funding for teacher training in early childhood engineering is needed. Bringing early childhood educators and policymakers together to discuss the E in STEM is crucial. Perhaps organizations like www.ECSTEM.org can serve as a model for every state.
Idea No. 438