Realizing that one of the most joyful blessings God has given me is great and generous mentors throughout my life, I have a strong desire to mentor students through scholarly work. However, here at Vanguard University, the Early Childhood Program is fully online and at an undergraduate level, so it is somewhat challenging to conduct research with my students. Gratefully, my former and current students are willing to work with me both remotely and on-site.
I recently implemented one research project through collaboration with a current student, Amber Carlson, who is a Transitional Kindergarten Teacher at the Calvary Chapel Preschool. The project explores children’s protological construction in the context of experience with balance mobiles in a constructivist setting. The project also includes exploring the usefulness of making mobiles in promoting children’s development of the concept of balance.
Our journey began in Fall 2019 through a meeting with Amber, her Co-Teacher, an Outdoor Resource Teacher, and the Director of the preschool who is an alumna of the VU EC Program. All the teachers and staff of the school and the families of Amber’s classroom fully supported the project.
Throughout the project, I regularly visited the classroom and found that the children were highly interested in the activity. For me, the most rewarding aspect of the project was the experience of a boy who would often get distracted during activities, but in this case, was fully engaged and focused on the project. He is the only child who fully understood the off-centered fulcrum balance scale in mobiles.
The children’s final mobile projects were shared with family members during Open House. It was priceless to watch the children explain the mobiles to parents and family.
Our project proposal was accepted to the 2020 annual conference of the Early Childhood STEM conference, which attracts early childhood educators from all over the world. Our presentation, titled Mobile Making: STEAM, received great feedback from the conference attendees. After our presentation, one woman, who introduced herself as a former preschool director at the Princeton University Children’s Center, shared how meaningful the presentation was to her, and about how she couldn’t wait to implement the activity in her own daycare center.
As a class project for ECED 315 Science and Math for Young Children, Amber produced an engaging short video about the project.
We intend to write an article about this experience for future publication and we are so excited!