Each week the Levine Academy ECC 2's, 3's, and Pre-K classes are greeted with a sense of wonder by our Science and Discovery Specialist, Stephanie Barta. By introducing science as a regular part of our students' sked, it reinforces the current research and knowledge on childhood brain development and life-long learning patterns. A good, active science program helps children "play" with important ideas. Finding their voices, their points-of-view, children discover that asking questions is fundamental to problem-solving. It is astonishing to see how creative and deep our ECC children's critical thinking is. It is important to stress to these young learners that there is often more than one right answer to a question. It is also important to provide as much individual, hands-on, opportunity for exploration.
Learning through play during the early childhood years is also the basis for later critical thinking. Early learners think that science "class" is a place to play, albeit with rules for safety and some camouflaged science framework. Without mentioning the word experiment, each week our Levine children participate in an activity that is hands-on and inspires, "Why did that happen?" and "How does it work?". Creative thinking is also scientific. Science is a link to the curriculum and Jewish learning that is happening in the classrooms. Making connections to students' widening world is one of the goals of our science program.
Creative STEM exploration is also revealed to our ECC learners with our discovery based Loose Parts Lab. A variety of attractive shapes and materials are sorted and stored. Children get to choose several materials and can build structures they see as "solutions" to a given challenge. They get excited about the adventure and have another opportunity to demonstrate their talents. Pride in creation and originality are also benefits to this program. Art projects and use of our SMART board are some other positive outgrowths of the Loose Parts Lab activities.
Our Levine garden is an active learning experience in itself and helps support all of the benefits of our science education listed above. The Pre-K students are currently learning about fundamentals of plant life cycles and habitats. This really helps them start to get a sense of place in their world.
Science is all about hands-on interactions. It all starts, however, with a focus on creative "play" and active learning. They will be curious!