STEM, STEAM and Makerspaces in Early Childhood: A Scoping Review
STEM has emerged as a key area of importance for children, highlighting the value and relevance of integrated understandings of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in both educational contexts and everyday life. The need for innovation and creativity is also recognised, which emphasizes the important role the arts can play as STEM is extended into STEAM. This scoping review investigated what is known about STEM, STEAM and makerspace experiences and opportunities for children aged birth to eight. The review found that early childhood experience with STEM, STEAM and makerspaces is an emerging field of research. Findings suggest that STEAM holds more relevance to learning and experiences in the early childhood years, and perhaps across the lifespan. The review also highlights the need to shift the starting point to the earliest of years and create greater intentionality in STEAM experiences with infants, toddlers and preschool aged children, recognizing the relevance of STEAM and maker mindsets in the lives of young children. Additionally, the scoping review identified the value of informal and community contexts as a means to invite broader participation. Such opportunities provide scope to challenge inequity in opportunity and to overcome intergenerational aversion towards STEM/STEAM-related learning. Further research is needed to understand the professional learning needs of early childhood educators and facilitators of STEAM and makerspace experiences.
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