Ramps and Pathways is an integrative approach to STEM designed for PK through second grade classrooms addressing standards in STEM, Literacy, and the 21st Century Skills.
- K-2 Alignment to NGSS
- K-2 Alignment to Literacy
- K-2 Alignment to Mathematics
- K-2 Alignment to 21st Century Skills
Preschool is not addressed in NGSS. Classroom teachers searching for ways to include STEM in preschool often peruse social media where science for children is presented as entertainment rather than a way of enabling children to investigate their world and how it works. Science as entertainment can be seen in activities where children watch their teacher expand a bar of ivory soap in a microwave, or add vinegar to baking soda to make a volcano. The NSTA Early Childhood Science Education Position Statement counters this entertainment approach to science and states that ongoing and daily immersion in the practices of science and engineering in authentic experiences that are relevant and specific to their local geography and culture prepares children for the NGSS standards addressed in kindergarten, first, and second grades. Ramps and Pathways curriculum provides children access to daily immersion in the practices of science and engineering and develop their understanding of force and motion. In addition, these experiences entice children to learn the tools of literacy and mathematics to allow them to communicate about their experiences. Ramps and Pathways is a context for fully integrated STEM and literacy learning.
Even though the NGSS are explicitly K-12, they are also relevant to preschool. In fact, the state of Massachusetts has recently developed preschool standards that closely resemble the NGSS (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2013). The Framework for K-12 Science Education aligns with national early childhood program standards such as the Head Start Child Development and Early Learning Framework (CDELF; Office of Head Start, 2011) and the National Association for the Education of Young Children Early Childhood Program Standards and Accreditation Criteria (ECPSAC; NAEYC, 2006). Linking these early childhood standards demonstrates the alignment between the science education community and the early childhood community concerning how best to approach STEM in the early years. Ramps & Pathways provides PK students with a seamless transition from early learning standards into Next Generation Science Standards.
Ramps and Pathways is a fully integrative STEM activity that addresses kindergarten, first, and second grade NGSS standards for Engineering Design
Ramps and Pathways is a fully integrative STEM activity that addresses Kindergarten NGSS standards for Physical Science: Motion and Stability
Science and Engineering Practices
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in K–2 builds on prior experiences and progresses to simple investigations, based on fair tests, which provide data to support explanations or design solutions.
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Connections to the
Scientific Investigations Use a Variety of Methods
Ramps and Pathways is a fully integrative STEM activity that addresses NGSS standards for Second Grade Physical Science: Matter and its Interactions
Ramps and Pathways is a fully integrative STEM activity that addresses Literacy standards for K-Second Grade
(K-2 Taken from Common core)
Speaking and Listening
K-2 Comprehension and Collaboration
K-2 Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
K-2 Text Types and Purposes
K-2 Production and Distribution of Writing
K-2 Research to Build and Present Knowledge
K-2 Conventions of Standard English
K-2 Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
Ramps and Pathways is a fully integrative STEM activity that addresses Mathematical standards for K-Second Grade
(K-2 Taken from Common core)
Counting and Cardinality
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Measurement and Data
Ramps and Pathways is a fully integrative STEM activity that addresses 21st Century skills
Key Subjects and 21st Century Themes
Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy
Ramps and Pathways provides a context where children recognize and manage the economy of materials as they design and build their structures individually and as a classroom community.
Ramps and Pathways provides a context where the teacher and students co-create rules and a management system for working within the Ramps and Pathways center. These rules are subject to changes, or amendments, when reasons for change become obvious and necessary for the students and teacher.
Learning and Innovation Skills
Creativity and Innovation
Ramps and Pathways is open-ended and encourages students to create new and worthwhile ideas, elaborate, refine, analyze, and evaluate those ideas. In the process, students communicate those ideas with each other and learn to become open and responsive to others’ perspectives. Students often build off each other’s ideas to produce innovative designs.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Ramps and Pathways is open-ended to inspire the use of inductive and deductive reasoning. Because the adjustment of one component of the system affects the effectiveness of the rest of the systems, Ramps and Pathways immerses the students in systems thinking. As problems and successes occur, students analyze and evaluate a system, making claims and beliefs about what is necessary to make a system work. In the process, they become willing to consider other students’ points of view and arrive at solutions in both conventional and innovative ways.
Communication and Collaboration
Ramps and Pathways is interesting and engaging to PK-2nd grade students. Because of this engagement, students work hard to overcome developmental issues in communication and collaboration; they develop executive function skills that allows them to grow in their ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas, listen effectively, use communication to inform, instruct, motivate, and persuade, and do so in an increasingly respectful manner to achieve common goals as well as the celebration of individual accomplishments.
Life and Career Skills
Flexibility and Adaptability
Initiative and Self-Direction
Social and Cross-cultural Skills
Productivity and Accountability
Leadership and Responsibility
Ramps and Pathways provides a context where the PK-2nd grade teacher can nurture leadership within students. While most curricula place the teacher at the center providing step-by-step direction toward a predetermined goal, Ramps and Pathways provides a meta-problem such as “How can we get an object to move in a interesting way?” The open-ended center allows children to pursue meso problems that involve design. As students pursue their design goal, they encounter micro problems of physics. These micro problems require students to adapt and be flexible in their design. They work independently to pursue their goal, but also interact with others to request assistance in problem solving, or act as a consultant on another student’s design. Rather than learning about productivity and accountability, they are immersed in an atmosphere where these traits are practiced and developed.