The Texas Regional Collaboratives, headquartered in the Center for Science and Mathematics Education at the University of Texas in Austin seeks to integrate research and applied education to take important tools inside pre-kindergarten classrooms to assess young students' knowledge and skills and test strategies for teaching core science concepts to young learners. The project will involve teachers from multiple backgrounds and will be conducted in a variety of settings with an emphasis on including classrooms where students are culturally and economically diverse. The mixed methods research will include data collection via case studies and technology-based assessment techniques.
Utilizing a robust research community of science and early childhood educators, science content specialists, researchers, and classroom teachers, the project will conduct four years of intense classroom observation and data collection in 25 pre-kindergarten classrooms with the intent of probing for answers to the following questions: (a) What should children know and be able to do when they enter kindergarten? (b)What core STEM ideas should be stressed in pre-kindergarten/kindergarten science learning activities? (c)What professional development practices best support the teaching of complex STEM concepts and processes to young learners?