Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

What is Science in Pre-K?

The Formation of Science in Pre-K

The National Air and Space Museum's Early Childhood Education Program was established thanks to a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and offers a variety of programming for young visitors. With this initial support, Science in Pre-K formed as a cooperative effort between the National Air and Space Museum (NASM) and DC Public Schools (DCPS), with additional support from the PNC Foundation’s Grow Up Great with Science. Science in Pre-K was a course accredited by George Mason University that provided teachers and paraprofessionals with professional development training in inquiry science, books and materials for the classroom, and field trips and educational programming at the museum for the students. The program was developed to instill confidence in Pre-K teachers to design ongoing learning experiences for students to explore scientific subjects such as building structures, water, and light.

For the 2009-2010 school year, DCPS connected NASM with STEM Catalyst Schools; Whittier Elementary School, Emery Education Campus, Langdon Education Campus, Malcolm X Elementary School, John Burroughs Elementary School and Anne Beers Elementary School. In the first year of the program, Science in Pre-K impacted 28 teachers from 14 classrooms. The program continued in the 2010-2011 school year working with the STEM coordinators from the 2009-2010 year in addition to teachers and paraprofessionals from Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, Kenilworth Elementary School, Plummer Elementary School and River Terrace Elementary School. In the third year of the program, 2011-2012, we circled back to all 10 schools to train new Pre-K teachers and to offer a “train the trainer” model to 1-2 “Champion” teachers in each school. The “Champions” were trained be able to provide sustainability of the program in their schools.

For the 2013-2014 school year, DCPS has established a task force to develop and provide sustained professional development in science for early childhood educators. 

The building blocks for Science in Pre-K came from the expertise of Early Childhood Museum Education Specialists from the National Air and Space Museum, and research on inquiry science for young children conducted by the Education Development Center. For more resources on Inquiry Science for Young Children, please see our Exploring Further page.


Making Connections between the Classroom and Museum

Museums are an excellent resource for early childhood educators to enhance the learning that they do in the classroom.There are many different kinds of museums located all over the globe. Just about every museum can have something to offer for young children. This site will offer you resources to think about how you can most effectively use the resources in a museum to enhance your students' learning in the classroom. Whether you are able to visit a museum or experience museum resources online, there are many ways to integrate knowledge and hands-on experiences from the museum into your classroom environment.


Science in Pre-K Today

With the creation of this website, we are thrilled to share Science in Pre-K with a much broader audience. The goal of Science in Pre-K is to provide teachers, child-care providers and other early childhood educators with a foundation in science content and teaching methods for science inquiry in a pre-school environment. Methods from Science in Pre-K can give you confidence in your teaching and offer you access to resources beyond your classroom to make science come alive for your young students. For questions about Science in Pre-K or the website visit our Contact page.