To the editors of *Scientific American***:**

Your Perspectives column in the March 2010issue should be required reading for superintendents, school board members, principals and teachers in all grades and preschool settings. The piece, titled “Start Science Sooner,” makes its point from the get-go: “Good science education at the earliest grades is supremely important, but in most classrooms it gets short shrift.” The result is that children view science as “too hard” or something that is only meant for older people wearing white lab coats.

The column also does a good service by highlighting the work of Purdue University’s Scientific Literacy Project. This federally funded project is introducing kindergarten teachers to methods of  inquiry-based science instruction that combine literacy with science teaching and learning.

But we here at the Early Education Initiative have a not-so-minor quibble: Why start in kindergarten? Why not start earlier?

The subhead for your article is “Excellence in science education must begin in kindergarten.”  Our take is this: Excellence in science education should begin as soon as young children are able to start asking questions about the world around them. We have seen preschool settings in which 2- and 3-year-old children are introduced to insects or rainbows or cracks in the pavement in such a way that prepares them to think like a scientist: observing, gathering information, testing hypotheses and gathering yet more information based on what those tests show, and so on.

Peggy Ashbrook, a preschool teacher and columnist for the National Science Teachers Association, has taught us a lot about how to bring science to life for preschool-age children. Her blog, The Early Years, was started five years ago to highlight the myriad ways science can be part of a young child’s learning experience. Her book, Science is Simple, offers yet more examples.

Ashbrook is not alone. Early educators are becoming more and more vocal about the need for earlier science instruction. A recent article in Ed Week described the recent push for more attention on early learning and science. And this year, Brookes Publishing released a new book called Preschool Pathways to Science, by Rochel Gellman, a cognitive scientist at Rutgers University, and her colleagues.

The sooner we all realize that preschool experiences can be as rich in content and intellectually engaging as they are expected to be in the later years, the closer we’ll be to delivering a world-class system of education.

Yours sincerely,

The team at the Early Education Initiative, New America

Source: New America Foundation –