Activity Design Principles that Support Family-Based Engineering Learning in Early Childhood

Monday, March 28, 2022
Resource Type:
Conference Proceedings | Reference Materials
Environment Type: 
Informal/Formal Connections, Pre-K/Early Childhood Programs
Pre-K Children (0-5) | Families | Museum/ISE Professionals | Learning Researchers
Education and learning science | Engineering
TERC, University of Notre Dame, Metropolitan Family Service

Introducing young children to STEM is critical for cultivating early interests and understanding that ultimately contribute to broader participation in the STEM fields. However, while there is substantial research around early childhood mathematics and a growing body of literature related to early childhood science, early childhood engineering continues to be the focus of only a few studies. To address this need, we conducted a design-based research (DBR) study focused on both (b) iteratively developing and improving home-based, engineering design activities for families with preschool-age children and (b) advancing theory about strategies that support engineering design engagement for children and adult family members. Based on the analysis of videos and interviews, three overarching design principles for home-based engineering activities for young children and their families emerged: (1) present design challenges that leverage the ways families naturally orient to play and engagement with the materials, (2) include narrative contexts and supports that motivate engagement in engineering practices, including user-centered design, and (3) align the choices of narrative context, design materials, and design challenges to create an open, accessible, age-appropriate solution space.

Funding Program: 
EEC Divoision of Engineering Education and Centers
Award Number: 
Funding Amount: 

Team Members

Catherine WagnerCatherine WagnerAuthor
Amy CorbettAmy CorbettAuthor
Maria Eugenia PerdomoMaria Eugenia PerdomoAuthor
Viviana López BurgosViviana López BurgosAuthor
Sabrina De Los SantosSabrina De Los SantosAuthor

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