This past Friday and Saturday, The Children’s Center at Caltech hosted its 12th annual ECSTEM Conference, bringing together renowned authors, guest speakers and experts in the field of Early Childhood and STEM.
The theme of this year’s conference was Earth Science, with a special focus on equipping children with the tools necessary to problem-solve, innovate, and create change in a world with endless solutions.
It’s no coincidence that just days before the conference, Pasadena experienced a near record-breaking heatwave followed by plunging temperatures that brought on a flash hailstorm with pea-size ice pellets and gusty winds. At Academy, students in the Kitchen Chemistry 2 class excitedly put their gummy bear experiment on pause to step out onto the front porch and take in the wintery scene.
Students take a break to investigate ice falling from the sky during Kitchen Chemistry 2.
The ECSTEM conference offered similar opportunities to learn from nature’s wonders, including keynote speakers and children’s book authors Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple, who read from their book, I Am The Storm.
“A tornado, a blizzard, a forest fire, and a hurricane are met, in turn, with resilience and awe in this depiction of nature’s power and our own. In the face of our shifting climate, young children everywhere are finding themselves subject to unfamiliar and often frightening extreme weather (Yolen, 2019).”
This richly illustrated book told from the perspective of four children who find themselves adapting to extreme weather events thoughtfully depicts the call to shelter, swirl of emotions, and eventual passing of danger that leaves each child feeling as strong as nature itself.
If you haven’t read the book for yourself or in the company of a child, I recommend it. The final pages will have you chanting,
“I am loud like the tornado.
I am wild like the blizzard.
I am hot like the fire.
I am fierce like the hurricane.
I am the storm.
And when the storm passes,
as it always does,
I am the calm, too.”
Below you will find a list of resources from ECSTEM and other STEM-field experts that provide our young people of today with developmentally appropriate, culturally inclusive, real-world learning opportunities that are on the cutting edge of tomorrow.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Board on Science Education.
- 2022 Report on Science and Engineering in Preschool Through Elementary Grades (free downloadable pdf available)
And if you happened to miss Pasadena’s recent ice shower, here is how you can make your own hailstorm in a cup!