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STEM Education in the Early Years

Kevin Larkin and Thomas Lowrie
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Andrzej Sokolowski
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STEM Education in the Early Years by Larkin and Lowrie synthesizes best practices in STEM education and draws on a four-year STEM longitudinal study conducted in preschools with 4-8 years old kids in Australia. Consisting of seven chapters, the volume discusses a range of theories, from Vygotsky's work to a constructivist view and their fit of these theories to improve STEM early childhood education.
A substantial part of this book is dedicated to digital technologies and their effect on kids' computational thinking in face-to-face play-embedded learning settings. For example, tablets are perceived as an inevitable tool that preschool kids will eventually use to support their learning. Enhancing younger learners' perception of such tools to enhance learning is strongly encouraged by the authors. Departing from The Digital Play Framework, the authors delve deeper into the learning effects of playful explorations, play-based learning, and guided play.
Bringing STEM to preschool students requires solid pre-service teachers' professional training. This crucial element is also discussed in the book concluding with a need to develop courses that offer that type of training. In addition, the authors voiced a need for designing open-ended exploratory material and sound curricula that preschool teachers could apply in their practice.
The merits of the first six chapters accumulate to be deployed to chapter seven, which researches the thesis of play as an intentional STEM learning tool with over 11,500 children and 675 educators, which was mentioned earlier as a four-year longitudinal study. The research allowed the authors to formulate STEM Practices and the Experience, Represent and Apply called ERA Heuristic, which both provide early childhood educators with pedagogical tools to effectively teach STEM. Directed to app designers, the practices allow linking children's prior experiences and applying these experiences to new contexts. 
Following the research findings, proposed activities enhance play-based learning, such as creating and interpreting pictures, visualizing, and symbolizing. As the authors anticipate a continuation of this study, providing effect size statistics that will numerically illustrate the benefits of this program on these students' primary and further education would undoubtedly add value to this program.


Andrzej Sokolowski, Ph.D., authored several books and research papers on developing students' mathematical reasoning and integrating this reasoning to improve science understanding.