"The STEM content was designed to be addressed in class during teacher-led large group (LG) time, followed by children-led small group (SG) time.
The STEM content addressed during LG time was presented through the use of The Creative Curriculum framework:
• Math and science learning: The children were exposed to math and science concepts such as numbers, order, volume, capacity, length, area, shape, space, time, size, weather conditions; practices such as discovering relationships through matching and comparing, measuring and manipulating artifacts, composing and decomposing shapes; and focus on scientific skills, methods, and knowledge.
• Design process knowledge: The children were experiencing the design process by following a long-term design project. Furthermore, as time passed, developmentally-appropriate images representing the stages of this process were added in the classroom for the children to revisit and to have the chance to identify and iterate on the steps of the process they are following.
• Problem-solving skills: While following the design project, construction and usage problems were posed to children and decision-making was further discussed and applied.
• Communication skills: The children were presented with and are further asked to apply different types of engineering and design communication tools, such as creating a developmentally-appropriate criteria list, sketching, drawing and making collages, and creating miniature models of their final product ideas. At the end of the lesson, the children created and presented their final products.
• Organization and management skills: The children participated in discussions regarding organization and management of the materials to be used.
• Engineering professions: The children were introduced to different types of engineering professions by discussing in which part of their construction each type of engineer was involved. Professional engineers were also invited to participate in class by talking and working with the children.
• Technological literacy: Parents were encouraged to use a computer, the Internet, and other digital devices while gathering information relevant to the design project with their children at home.
The Project Approach (PA) was used during SG time to complement The Creative Curriculum (CC); and as recommended by Katz and Chard (1990), it consisted of the three phases shown below
The Project Approach suggests that
• The first phase of the curriculum should be a series of discussion and presentations of material or content that will act as an initial stimulus for the children. The role of this first phase is covered in the first two weeks of the Creative Curriculum sessions.
• The second phase of The Project Approach is called the investigation phase. Children, while doing field work, should be encouraged to live new experiences in regards to the design project. In this phase, the children’s interest is expected to rise and they are expected undertake initiatives. This phase lasts eight weeks and includes large group discussions, field trips, in-class visitations, information gathering and classroom displays, and small group construction of projects. During these small group project sessions, each group of children is provided with tools ( e.g., scissors, glue, markers, etc.) and further materials that may work as stimuli for children’s work ( e.g., magazines, books, photos, etc.). None of the groups is guided toward a specific common direction since The Project Approach is intended to be a child-driven approach that promotes exploratory learning and calls for minimum guidance from the teacher. Furthermore, during SG time, the same cognitive goals are addressed as in the LG time, though not necessarily in the same order or the same depth among all groups of children.
• The third phase takes place in the last week of the EEC implementation. During this phase, children discuss, evaluate, and reflect on their work and present their work to out-of-classroom visitors. They can present their work to staff working in the day care program, to other classrooms, and to parents and friends at an open house. In this phase, children are expected to consolidate their understanding of the project while sharing their work with others and gaining a sense of accomplishment and closure."