UNK, Head Start target STEM in preschool

Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN) awarded grants totaling $172,750 to two programs at its annual awards ceremony Oct. 26. 

WIN’s University of Nebraska grant was awarded to the University of Nebraska at Kearney College of Education for a project furthering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in Head Start programs.

The UNK college was awarded a grant of $86,375 to support its collaboration with Nebraska Head Start. The program focuses on early STEM concept development by providing preschool teachers the opportunity to advance their teaching practices.

The Head Start early childhood education program reinforces efforts to prepare Nebraska​’s youngest children for future school and career success. The program could impact hundreds of children and their families. Giving children a strong foundation in STEM subjects is a long-term investment intended to bolster the number of Nebraska high school graduates who meet national STEM benchmarks, which is now around 27%, as well as to meet the demand for a growing segment of STEM-related jobs in the state.

“The UNK Head Start on STEM project is designed to increase Head Start educators’ knowledge, skills and dispositions for planning and implementing developmentally appropriate STEM activities for preschool age children,” said the program’s leader, Paula Thompson, Ed.D., assistant professor of teacher education at UNK.

“The funding will support up to 20 Head Start educators with four tuition-free graduate level courses along with individually designed support for increased participant retention and success.”