Motorola Solutions Foundation awards EYI to align STEM curricula in Westbury
Every once in a while comes an opportunity to weave together decades of research and best practices and meld them with a futuristic curriculum and the heart and soul of a community. The Early Years Institute has been given this extraordinary goodie bag in the form of a grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Called Wild Child: Age 3 to Grade 3 STEM Nature Project, EYI will receive $110,000 over two years to align STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curricula in the early childhood programs and grades K-3 in the Westbury School System.
The curriculum will follow the “Project Approach” promoted by Lillian Katz of the Erikson Institute which is a more effective approach to teaching technology because the effort is personally meaningful and interesting to the child. As Rouseau said, “We should not teach children the sciences but give them a taste for them.”
We will capitalize on research from the Foundation for Child Development which indicates that the benefits of high quality preschool will last beyond 3rd grade if there is alignment and continuity between what is taught in preschool and in grades K-3. This project will provide an opportunity for preschool and elementary school teachers to work together and design a step-ladder approach to science curricula. We expect those relationships to endure and lead to alignment in additional areas of the child’s educational experience – including family involvement.
This program will begin in Westbury where we have familiarity as it is the district we are piloting the Early Development Instrument (EDI), a measurement tool of school readiness. The elementary school and several child care programs serve on the Westbury EDI Leadership Team guiding the project.
This project will also tap the expertise of our Long Island Nature Collaborative for Kids (LINCK). The STEM focus of the curriculum will tap one of our greatest scientific assets: the native wildlife and habitats of Long Island. The featured wildlife we will be using is the osprey, a locally-found fish hawk with a strong conservation history and message. Given that the osprey is a cosmopolitan species found in five continents this will enable students from different cultures to readily connect with this species. Like the osprey, we hope to migrate this curriculum approach across Long Island.