Robert B. McCall’s article “The Jury Is In on Preschool” (April 13 Forum), provided an excellent summary of research affirming the long-term benefits of preschool and noted the importance of well-trained preschool teachers. Preschool education reduces the socioeconomic achievement gap that appears in later schooling, and effective preschool programs nurture students’ curiosity, develop social skills and provide them with the foundational abilities necessary for future educational success.
It’s important to note that science topics are an important part of preschool education. Carnegie Science Center has worked with nearly 130 Head Start classrooms in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and Westmoreland County to help teachers introduce science content into their lessons and to model ways to teach this content. PNC has generously funded this “Grow Up Great With Science” program. As a result of the success of these efforts, we also have provided consultation to the West Virginia Department of Education on science content for its 1,200 pre-K classrooms throughout the state.
The results have been both positive and significant. Participating teachers rated the program nine or higher on a 10-point scale relative to their science teaching. The program also scored a 3.5 or higher out of four on its ability to encourage children to investigate, predict, compare, expand their investigations and use open-ended questions to guide them, integral parts of an effective preschool program.
Clearly, engaging students in science early and often is imperative to preparing them to compete in an ever more technological world. Offering preschool opportunities to all children is a necessary link in this chain, especially now that long-term benefits are supported by data.
JASON C. BROWN
Director of Science and Education
Early Childhood Coordinator
Carnegie Science Center