Bringing Science Home with PEEP: Engaging Parents and Preschool Children in Science Exploration
The achievement gap begins well before children enter kindergarten. Research has shown that children who start school having missed critical early learning opportunities are already at risk for academic failure. This project seeks to narrow this gap by finding new avenues for bringing early science experiences to preschool children (ages 3-5), particularly those living in communities with few resources. Bringing together media specialists, learning researchers, and two proven home visiting organizations to collaboratively develop and investigate a new model that engages families in science exploration through joint media engagement and home visiting programs. The project will leverage the popularity and success of the NSF-funded PEEP and the Big Wide World/El Mundo Divertido de PEEP to engage both parents and preschool children with science.
To address the key goal of engaging families in science exploration through joint media engagement and home visiting programs, the team will use a Design Based Implementation Research (DBIR) approach to address the research questions by iteratively studying the intervention model (the materials and implementation process) and assessing the impact of the intervention model on parents/caregivers. The intervention model will include the PEEP Family Engagement Toolkit that will support 20 weeks of family science investigations using new digital and hands-on science learning resources. It will also include new professional development resources for home educators as well as and the implementation process and strategies for developing and implementing the Toolkit with families.
The proposed research focuses first on refining and improving program design and implementation, and second, on investigating whether the intervention improves the capacity of parent/caregivers to support young children's learning in science. Ultimately this research will accomplish two important aims: it will inform the design of the PEEP family engagement intervention model, and, more broadly, it will build practical and theoretical understanding of: 1) effective family engagement models in science learning; 2) the types of supports that families and home educators need to implement these models; and 3) how to implement these models across different home visiting programs. Given the reach of the home visiting programs and the increasing interest in supporting early science learning the potential for broad impact is significant. This project is funded by the Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program, which seeks to advance new approaches to, and evidence-based understanding of, the design and development of STEM learning in informal environments.