● ●
respect logic
● ●
consider the consequences of their actions
● ●
demonstrate intellectual independence (Fraser-Abder 2011, 5)
These expectations are intrinsic to the STEM approach. They also provide
the foundation for differentiating a STEM classroom for the needs of all chil-
dren. Be prepared. Critical thinking can lead learners to surprising questions.

Never be afraid to say, “I don’t know; let’s find out together.”
Reading the Framework and NGSS in an Early
Childhood Context
The Framework and NGSS define an extensive set of progressions in practices,
concepts, and content that includes all the academic disciplines. Some early
childhood educators consider this structured approach to expectations (what
children should be able to do) somewhat daunting, especially when added to
the language arts and mathematics expectations that increasingly crowd K–2
programs. But when early childhood teachers and caregivers look deeper, they al-
most always discover that they are already doing most of the groundwork for
these expectations. Even if the language of the Framework and NGSS is a bit
different, the practices are easy to recognize in existing programs. Early child-
hood education is intrinsically integrated; guides know that it is not appro-
priate to divide curricular time into subjects. The science goals are treasures
buried within what we already do.

NGSS’s content (called Disciplinary Core Ideas) may seem new to early
childhood teachers and caregivers upon their first read. This is particularly
true in the physical sciences. Traditionally, when teachers at this level have
taught science at all, they have tended to emphasize the life sciences. Yet the
physical and earth sciences often come more naturally to very young explor-
ers. Their days are full of pushes and pulls, forces and motion, and sensory ex-
periences that help them identify the properties of matter. Water and weather
provide the scientific raw materials for all sorts of investigations. Every ad-
venture young children undertake is filled with the sorts of questions and ob-
servations that lead to understanding and problem solving. Although these
areas have been underemphasized both in preservice teacher education and
in supporting materials like trade books, they are great areas for integrated
exploration. NGSS emphasizes crosscutting concepts that span all disciplines and
all lessons. The key to teaching and learning crosscutting concepts is mak-
ing connections. That is a challenge. Connecting a fall unit on force and mo-
tion to spring activities in gardening and nutrition takes some creativity. And