The South Florida Science Center & Aquarium is empowering teachers to show young children in Palm Beach and Broward counties that learning science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) is fun, even at such a young age.
Two funders have provided the means necessary to start the program “Pint Size Science: Growing Up With STEAM.” The goal of the program is to implement STEAM learning into regular curricula for children ages 3 to 5 years old.
Science Center educators will train staff from childcare centers throughout the year. The training will engage teachers by giving them the knowledge and tools necessary to foster learning. Pint Size Science begins with intense training of the chosen preschool teachers with day-long workshops, followed by classroom visits throughout the year, which include story time, a thematic science activity and free play.
“It’s never too early to introduce young children to art and science,” said Kate Arrizza, CEO of the Science Center. “By making sure students are exposed to these subjects at an early age through open-ended questions, hands-on experiences and experimentation, we are helping them develop a love of learning, as well as creating important and necessary connections to the science learning process. Studies have shown that effective early childhood education makes a sizable impact on achievement, grade retention, special education, high school graduation and socialization.”
The program will also give family members the chance to be involved through family fun packs with a lunch kit, watercolor paint set, a magnifying glass, a collection box and more. “By involving parents and guardians in the educational process, Pint Size Science capitalizes on the concept of getting the whole family on board to make it that much more fun,” Arrizza said.
The Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Foundation has given $55,000 to fund the program in Palm Beach County. The A.D. Henderson Foundation has provided $50,000 to fund the program in Broward County.
The funding will serve about 75 teachers and staff at 10 childcare centers in Palm Beach County covering nearly 350 children ages 3 to 5. The Broward grant will reach 400 students and 100 teachers in that county. Palm Beach State College is partnering in this project.
The mission of the South Florida Science Center & Aquarium is to “open every mind to science,” and in addition to its fresh and saltwater aquarium and new backyard Science Trail, the indoor/outdoor venue features more than 100 hands-on educational exhibits, a digital planetarium, conservation research station, Florida exhibit hall, Pre-K focused “Discovery Center,” an interactive Everglades exhibit and the 18-hole Conservation Course — an outdoor putting course with science-focused education stations.
The Science Center’s newest addition includes a $2.5 million permanent exhibit, “Journey Through the Human Brain” and features the most advanced neuroscience research and technology in the world.
The South Florida Science Center & Aquarium is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $17.95 for adults, $15.95 for seniors, $13.95 for kids ages 3-12 and free for kids under 3. Planetarium shows and mini golf are not included in general admission pricing. For more information, call (561) 832-1988 or visit www.sfsciencecenter.org.