As a primary academic partner of the museum, FIU will develop a pilot program in collaboration with Frost Science to provide real-world experience in science learning for Miami-Dade County preschool children based on the museum’s Early Childhood Hands-On Science (ECHOS) program. FIU students will gain first-hand work experience in real classrooms focused on the importance of working with families to introduce science to preschoolers.
“For decades we have been missing a great opportunity – our youngest and most natural scientists were largely being ignored by the science education establishment,” said Judy Brown, vice president emerita of education at Frost Science.
In addition, FIU students in FIUteach, a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) teacher preparation program, will receive training in science communication and complete internships at Frost Science, working with exhibit content developers and education experts in the development of field trip programming for elementary and secondary education students.
“FIU is helping to create a pipeline of highly skilled teachers who inspire and challenge students in the STEM fields,” said Laird Kramer, director of FIU’s STEM Transformation Institute, a multidisciplinary collaboration across the FIU colleges of Arts & Sciences, Education, and Engineering & Computing. “The partnership with Frost Science will give FIU students the opportunity to experience and influence science education beyond the classroom in unique and exciting ways.”
In December, the first group of early childhood education, elementary education, and special education students from the College of Education who completed the ECHOS training will be paired with teachers in preschool centers operated by Head Start, Early Learning Coalition providers and Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Thena C. Crowder Early Childhood Diagnostic and Special Education Center. They will commit at least 36 hours toward working with low-income 3 to 5 year-olds in centers located across South Florida, including Opa-locka, Overtown, Libery City, Little Haiti, Wynwood and Homestead. A second cohort of College of Education students will be trained in late January.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to reduce the gap in school readiness,” said Daniela Foerch, an early childhood education instructor at the College of Education. “Head Start students will have access to Frost Science resources to gain a better understanding of science, helping them learn through inquiry while applying the scientific method. Because we are teaching science through exploration, we expect to have a long-term impact on educational equity.”