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IES Grant

Title: Early Childhood Hands-On Science Curriculum Development and Demonstration
Center: NCER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Brown, Judy Awardee: Miami Museum of Science
Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $1,415,652
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305K060036

Purpose: In the early 2000s, science education was a marginal component of most preschool curricula. In this study, the researchers aimed to develop and obtain preliminary evidence of the potential impact of a comprehensive early science readiness curriculum and related teacher professional development.

Project Activities: The research team proposed to develop and test a comprehensive early childhood curriculum and professional development program. The researchers leveraged a curriculum they had previously developed and piloted, called Early Childhood Hands-On Science, as the initial core of science curriculum units for this project.

Structured Abstract


Setting: The research will be conducted in Florida.

Sample: Approximately 40 teachers (20 treatment, 20 control) and 800 children (400 treatment, 400 control) will participate in the study. They will be selected from Head Start programs that serve a relatively large percentage of minority and low-income children.

Intervention: The research team will develop and test a comprehensive early childhood curriculum and professional development program named Early Childhood Hands-On Science. This curriculum builds on an existing core of science curriculum units already developed by the research team and pilot tested with selected preschool centers prior to the IES funding. Currently, the curriculum consists of seven units covering age-appropriate science concepts in an investigative and interactive format, with topics from life science and physical science. Pilot data suggest that to have an impact, all Early Childhood Hands-On Science units need to be expanded to include activities that reinforce not only science but other school readiness domains as well. In addition, this needs to be done in such a way that teachers view the units as an integrated approach to the teaching of science and feel comfortable implementing these units as part of their daily classroom schedule, extending each unit across multiple days. Finally, review of the seven existing units reveals a lack of adequate coverage of the earth sciences. This project will build on existing data and experience to create and demonstrate the potential of an inquiry-based early childhood science readiness curriculum that will improve early childhood educators' capacity to guide science inquiry, thus supporting young children's overall cognitive development and school readiness in general and enhanced science learning in particular.

Research Design and Methods: After completing the development work, the researchers will conduct a pilot study. In this small field test, 40 teachers will be selected to participate. There will be 20 randomly assigned to the treatment group and 20 to the control group.

Control Condition: Teachers in the comparison group will continue the existing High Scope curriculum and related teacher professional development.

Key Measures: Measures of preschool science and other areas of school readiness will be assessed through the Galileo System for the Electronic Management of Learning (Galileo). Galileo provides teachers with a method of continually evaluating children in multiple domains of school readiness, including nature and science. Two new assessment instruments will also be tested and validated: the Pre-K and kindergarten science readiness assessment (a direct assessment of children's science knowledge) and teacher practice in preschool science (a classroom walkthrough observation tool to capture changes in teacher practice in science instruction).

Data Analytic Strategy: Data analyses will include multilevel hierarchical linear modeling with children nested in classrooms.

Related IES Projects: Lens on Science: Development and Validation of a Computer-Administered, Adaptive, IRT-Based Science Assessment for Preschool Children (R305A090502), ECHOS: Early Childhood Hands on Science (R305A100275), Development of the School Readiness Curriculum Based Measurement System (R305A110549), Efficacy Trial of MyTeachingPartner-Mathematics and Science Curricula and Implementation Support System (R305A120631), Enfoque en Ciencia: Extending the Cultural and Linguistic Validity of a Computer Adaptive Assessment of Science Readiness for Use with Young Latino Children (R305A130612), Development of Math and Science Domains of the School Readiness Curriculum Based Measurement System (R305A170638)


ERIC Citations: Find available citations in ERIC for this award here.

Select Publications:

Journal articles

Nayfeld, I., Fuccillo, J., and Greenfield, D.B. (2013). Executive Functions in Early Learning: Extending the Relationship Between Executive Functions and School Readiness to Science. Learning and Individual Differences, 26: 81–88.