I had a wonderful conversation with Nicole Baumgart and Linda Kroll about their book. They shared their insights and passion associated with STEAM and I'm excited to introduce them to you.
1. What inspired the book?
N: Linda was my professor and after graduating I worked at an early childhood center with engineers, artists and others and I wondered what it would be like to use these concepts with toddlers
L: Nikki came to me and we worked together to put it together. As a new grandparent I was struck with the brilliance of babies and how they are always learning.
2. What is your number one piece of advice for child care providers with regard to using/thinking about STEAM with them?
N: Go out and do it! People are apprehensive because they don't know the formula/equations but just be aware of what children are currently exploring in their learning.
L: We have to learn how to notice their learning. Don't worry about getting the right answer, be curious alongside them.
N: Bring your hobbies into the classroom and your joy will show!
3. What is your number one piece of advice for parents?
N: Listen and observe, find out what their child is interested in. Take a journey with the child and bring your own particular and other's culture into it.
L: Being alert to what their child is thinking about. Non-conventional ways of responding to something or talking about something often indicate what the child is thinking about. Don't worry about mistakes and getting everything perfect.
4. Give us three words to describe yourself:
N: Life-long learner, adventurer
L:Inquirer, curious, teacher/learner
5. How would you describe your book to someone who knows nothing about children and STEAM?
L: We all utilize technology and it's a part of everyday life. A child might explore electricity when turning a light on and off. That lets them learn about electricity and power. They are learning to deliberately do it. This is a form of learning through everyday means. The book helps you to see the little moments that involve STEAM, while also helping you to build a curriculum for STEAM.
N: You are really able to personalize STEAM activities to your expertise. It doesn't have to be a big thing, it is the small things that you are doing everyday that will help you learn.
6. What has been the most formative experience you've had in your work?
N: Coming straight out of grad school and working in early education was really eye-opening.
L: I was a teacher myself and I taught young children and then I taught prospective teachers, specifically on how children are thinking and learning. The only way to last in the profession is to question and learn. It keeps it interesting and fun.
N: Reflection is key.
L: Being a grandparent and parent has also helped me to learn in a parental role and a teacher role.
7. What defines success for you as a worker in the child care field?
N: When a child, family, and teacher learn together. It should be a shared partnership that cultivates unity.
L: Helping to create context where both the brilliance of oth the teacher and the child is visible.
8. What do you want people to know about this book?
N: It's not a step by step activity book. It is going to give people tools and ideas in their play to develop STEAM. We wanted it to be a starting point for teachers.
L: It will give them ideas on how to learn for both the teachers and the students. The teachers that use this can write the next volumes!
9. What are some concepts about STEAM that you want people to know about?
N: It's not always something that needs to be taught. Facilitate excursions, go out and do things. Help the children to expand their learning. Show them what they are doing and make connections. Everything can be broken down into those five STEAM concepts.
L: The notion that these different ideas show up in everyday life, kids are already doing it. It's important to make it clear to the children what they are doing. Tell them "you are being a scientist" when they are exploring and doing something that relates to science.
10. Why is STEAM important to start implementing in children of such young ages?
L: It is more important to let children know that they are using STEAM. And to allow the teachers to set the stage of what the infant/toddler is doing is important. Make sure not to correct the children, but to help them channel their energy into an activity that is beneficial to them.
N: It is important to expand the concepts they already have. Take what the infant or toddler is already doing and expand their knowledge on the subject. Weave it into what you are interested in and your passion will show and intrigue the children
11. What is your favorite aspect of STEAM?
N: It helps me to learn more about myself and others. The inter lays between art, science, engineering gives us a greater understanding of ourselves.
L: STEAM concepts maintain curiosity about how the world works. It keeps us thinking and wondering about the world and it is fun!
What are some highlights of writing the book?
N: It was so much fun! I remember going to Linda with the idea of the book and hoping that she would say yes.
L: And I was excited and thrilled that Nikki wanted to do this. Nikki has the perspective of being a teacher to young children and I have more of a background in being a professor/theoretical thinker. We had to learn how to collaborate and write together while implementing both aspects of our expertise.
N: We also went into infant toddler classrooms to see how children were learning.
L: It was fun to take pictures and to document everything.
N: And the teachers in the classrooms were learning with us.
L: I think it would be a good book for parents as well as teachers because of the way it is organized. It is about learning to understand how to show children that they are already using STEAM concepts and parents can benefit from that as well.
To order your copy of Nichole Baumgart and Linda Kroll's
STEAM: Concepts for Infants and Toddlers, visit Red Leaf Press.