Exposing America’s Young Minds to Science

UM College of Arts & Sciences Psychology Professor to Attend Inaugural Childhood STEM Summit at the White House

Children are naturally inquisitive. They question the world around them, wonder how certain things work, and rarely repress their imaginations that make them ask “how” or “why.” In an effort to grow and improve young children’s fundamental skills in science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM), the White House has invited organizations to highlight new, specific and measurable steps to support early STEM in their communities.

To kick-off this initiative, the White House is hosting an inaugural summit on early childhood STEM development, and invited University of Miami College of Arts & Science Psychology Professor Dr. Daryl Greenfield to share his expertise on early science education for children.  

“The Obama administration has emphasized an important agenda to focus on STEM education beginning at the earliest ages. We underestimate young children’s ability to use science as a framework for their natural desire to make sense of the world around them. Such early learning, however, sets the foundation for maintaining curiosity, motivation for problem solving and habits of mind that will prepare our children to compete in the global economy and continue to maintain the United States as the world leader in innovation. This agenda also acknowledges providing parents, educators, early childhood programs and schools with the much needed knowledge, resources, and capacity to provide support for developmentally appropriate and intentional hands-on, minds-on science learning,” said Dr. Greenfield. 

At the White House Early Childhood STEM Summit, taking place on April 21, Dr. Greenfield will participate in a panel discussion entitled, “What does the research say about early STEM?” He will sit alongside academic colleagues from the University of Denver, Tufts University, and the University of Washington, as well as the CEO of Goldieblox, a toy company designed to get young girls interested in building and engineering.

“Exposing young minds to the joy and discovery process of fundamental science and engineering is an investment in our country’s future,” said Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Leonidas Bachas. “I am delighted that the White House Summit is providing Dr. Greenfield with an incredible opportunity to share his research, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the fundamentals of early science education for children in today’s classrooms.”

Dr. Greenfield is a member of the Child Division in the Department of Psychology and dedicated to early childhood education. He is the director of the School Readiness Lab, providing both UM graduate and undergraduate students with opportunities to be directly involved in research conducted in community settings. As the principal investigator of the UM Early Science Initiative (ESI), a program dedicated to promoting science as a foundational element in early childhood education, he is assisting educators with the best practices to promote science in the classroom. Dr. Greenfield also developed the touch screen computer-adaptive software programs, Lens on Science, and Enfoque en Ciencia, to measure science competence for English speaking and Spanish speaking young children.  

“My dream is for our youngest learners to begin to use our early childhood adaptation of the new K-12 science framework to acquire basic knowledge in life-science, physical science, and earth and space science, learn how to engage in science practices by asking questions, making predictions and experimenting, and attend to the big idea cross-cutting concepts such as patterns and cause and effect relationships,” said Dr. Greenfield. “Young children are not only capable and highly motivated to engage in these learning experiences, such learning sets them on a positive trajectory for becoming science literate adults with the skills to problem solve and understand how to ask and answer important questions that impact all of our lives.” 

‌The summit is a collaboration with the White House, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Invest in US, a campaign challenging today’s business leaders, philanthropists, advocates, public officials and the public to develop quality early childhood programs for children from birth to age eight.

(Photo caption: College of Arts & Science Psychology Professor Dr. Daryl Greenfield)

April 12, 2016