Post Conference Blog

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NAEYC Science Forum


Dear early childhood educators and researchers,


Let’s continue the rigorous and exhilarating conversations we had at the SEED conference at UNI in May—join us in forming a NAEYC Science Interest Forum to keep our expertise at the forefront where early childhood and science education come together.



We’re writing to invite you to join us in applying to NAEYC to form an Early Childhood Science Interest Forum. The purpose of the forum is to:


·         Provide a forum for the exchange of effective strategies and quality materials for science teaching in early childhood.


·         Establish and maintain a collaborative relationship with other professional organizations with similar goals.


·         Build early childhood educators’ understanding of the nature of quality science teaching and learning.


·         Promote public understanding of the importance of inquiry-based science in early childhood settings, as well as an understanding of what is appropriate content and a picture of what young children are capable of doing and learning.


·         Support efforts to expand professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators.




You can learn more about NAEYC interest forums at


Join us as we apply to the NAEYC Board to become the NAEYC Early Childhood Science Interest Forum by sending your name and membership number to Peggy Ashbrook at




Peggy Ashbrook,


Ingrid Chalufour


Betty Zan


Early Childhood Science Interest Forum facilitators


Stretching the conversation

As a non-scientist fascinated by the power of strengthening the scientific "habits of mind" of very young children, I was dazzled by this conference. A huge thanks to Betty Zan and Karen Jensen and everyone who pulled it together.

My first thought on arriving home was that we've got to get these messages (and questions and debates) out there to a wider audience of people who want to support high-quality early ed. I wrote a blog post the following day that I hope can help to stir the discussion outside our group as well:

Seeding Early Science in Northern Iowa

I'd love to know what you think, and what else we should be writing about at

Lisa Guernsey
Director, Early Education Initiative
New America Foundation
Washington, DC

Thank you for getting the word out

Lisa, your blog posts and podcast with Peggy Ashbrook were great ways to stretch the conversation. You captured the issues clearly and succinctly. I look forward to reading your blog regularly.

Marie Faust Evitt
Mountain View Parent Nursery School

Unexpected response

While I have always considered myself to be an insatiable learner, and this conference was no exception in its feeding of my intellect, I came away from this experience with an unexpected response.

First of all, I fell in love with Iowa. The beautiful landscape and friendly people, especially those from the university, really lifted my spirits and reminded me that the context of learning experiences is really important. Feeling welcomed and having basic creature comforts and details attended to, immediately put me at ease and helped me be more receptive. It didn't just happen. A large number of people intentionally and carefully planned this event. So thank you again!

As I was telling a colleague just this morning, in cases like this where I have experienced this deeper level of learning (for example, at a weeklong art workshop in Rhode Island, Bank Street classes, visits to Reggio and Reggio-inspired schools), I think a lot about the intentionality that goes into creating environments for adults (and children) that move them to stretch and grow without losing the joy of learning.

And given the fact that it takes enormous pots of money and manpower to have an experience like the ones I had in Iowa, Italy, Manhattan or Rhode Island, how can we recreate this experience on a local level with limited resources and dwindling staff? Specifically, with the many demands on teachers for more professional development on assessment and curricula, especially literacy and math, what steps do you take to put science on the agenda because it is an important subject to explore, not because it will be tested later?

Rosanne Hansel

You have asked such an

You have asked such an important and difficult-to-answer question. Those of us in the academic world are accustomed to such different environments than what is experienced in most public school environments. For one, we tend to write grants for conducting funded projects, so we can afford things like release time for teachers, snacks, classroom materials, and all of those other things that make professional development experiences more conducive to learning. You are correct that the learning environment is equally as important for adults as it is for children. It is so frustrating when tight budgets make truly effective PD out of reach. I wish I had an answer.
Betsy Zan

Putting science on the agenda

Parents may be some of the advocates we need to bring more science inquiry into early childhood and elementary classrooms. Perhaps because I am only in the classrooms once a week, or once a month, the children view science as a special treat (although I hope that it is also because of the intellectual challenges I bring). The parents that I hear from excitedly tell me about their child’s experiences finding a broken bird’s egg, floating objects in the tub, or going to a natural history museum. They and the classroom teachers are proud that the program includes science topics. Early childhood educators can identify and brag about the science they teach, and that the children explore, to show that it is important. My hope is that this parental excitement and pride will extend into elementary school and beyond—that by seeing their preschool child engaged in science learning, they will feel that their child certainly can learn science concepts in elementary school, middle school, and high school—maybe even become a scientist—and will encourage, support, and demand continued science learning.
The SEED conference was just the gift I needed to feed my brain and get the support I need to work more science inquiry into the programs I'm involved in.
Peggy Ashbrook

engineering in the news

This is one good sign--the article about engineering education in the NY Times (I have pasted in the link here, but I 'm not sure whether or not is is active):

One thing I noticed is that the school that was highlighted in the article is reported to have spent 10-15 hours/year on engineering education. I did the math, and that comes to 16.7-25 minutes per week. I question the efficacy of any project that is so limited in terms of the amount of time children can devote to it.
Betsy Zan