Preschool teacher Denise Nelson doesn’t talk much about volcanoes anymore. Or dinosaurs.
Instead, she has spent the past six weeks trying to get 20 3- to 5-year-olds in her Head Start classroom at a Worcester preschool to ponder the properties of water. Leaning over water tables, they find out which blocks float and why paper boats sink. And they get a bit wet along the way.
On the surface, the switch in topics may not seem significant. But what Nelson is doing represents the beginning of a change in preschool education as more schools introduce science, technology, engineering, and math – the so-called STEM subjects – to students so young that many don’t even read yet.