UTCDC had an opportunity to send four staff members to a three day conference on exploring science with young children. The goal of the conference was to teach teachers how to better incorporate science into all areas of teaching by encouraging children to be inquisitive and to think about things in their environment. Science is about exploring and also asking questions. Two staff members from each of our schools attended, Diane Duffer and Sonia Robles, from our Comal location, and Melinda Zamora and Sarah Qualls, from our San Jacinto location.
From the moment the staff arrived at the conference, they were immersed in science. They were given a large box filled to the brim with science tools and materials that were able to keep to be used in the UTCDC classrooms. One of the exciting tools they were given was a Smart Microscope. Just like curious children, all the attendees were collecting materials to see how they looked under the microscope. If this tool could energize a group of adults, imagine what this would do for children in our care! Over the course of three days, our staff participated in hands-on activities to investigate forces and motion, properties of matter, measurement, characteristics of organisms, life cycles of organisms, and how organisms interact with the environment. These topics not only lend themselves to science education, but stretch across the curriculum and can lead to more exploration in other content areas. This training was beneficial to the understanding of what prekindergarten children are capable of when given the tools and opportunities to explore the world around them!
This inspirational science training was based on the research collected during the Building BLOCKS for Science project conducted through the College of Education. One of our very own teachers, Diane Duffer, was part of the control group for this research. More information about the Building BLOCKS for Science project can be found at http://magazine.edb.utexas.edu/the-littlest-scientists/.