The Young Scientist: Teaching and Learning Science in Preschool Classrooms

Presenters:  Karen Worth and Jeff Winokur
In this session, the presenters offer a view of inquiry-based science teaching and learning in the preschool years, along with strategies for professional development. The work emphasizes the integration of science into a meaningful context in the developmentally appropriate classroom and the importance of maintaining challenging expectations for young children’s learning. Participants have the opportunity to review classroom documentation including video and student work, components of effective professional development, and evidence from recent research.

Karen Worth, Chair of Elementary Education, Wheelock College
Karen Worth is faculty at Wheelock College, where she teaches early childhood and elementary education with a focus on science education. She works closely with the Mathematics and Science Department to enhance the preparation of preservice students at Wheelock College. She also coordinates the Integrated Elementary and Special Education Program at the graduate level. She is currently chair of the Elementary Education Department. Worth also worked as a senior research scientist at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC), leading a range of programs focused on science curriculum development, professional development, and systemic reform. These included the NSF-funded development projects Connecting Science and Literacy Program: A Professional Development Program for Elementary Teachers, Tool Kit for Early Childhood Science Education, and the project that resulted in the publication of Insights, an Elementary Inquiry-Based Curriculum, which is currently in use nationally and internationally. Worth also co-led two major NSF-funded science systemic reform projects nationally. She has been a consultant and advisor to a number of museums, including the Boston Children’s Museum and the Chicago Children’s Museum. She has advised public television stations, including WGBH, PBH, and community organizations across the country and internationally. She served as the chair of the working group on Science Teaching Standards for the National Academy of Science’s National Science Education Standards effort. She is a recipient of the Exploratorium’s Outstanding Educator Award, the international Purkwa Prize for the scientific literacy of the children, and the NSTA Distinguished Service Award. Worth holds a BS from Radcliffe College and an MS from Bank Street College of Education.

Jeff Winokur, Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate, Education Development Center, Inc.
Jeff Winokur is a senior training and technical assistance associate at Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) and an instructor of early childhood and elementary science education at Wheelock College. In his more than 30 years in science education, he has worked on numerous projects with teachers, schools, and districts, and has also developed and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in the teaching of science to children ages 3–12. He was a member of the Center for Urban Science Education Reform (CUSER) and EDC K–12 Science Curriculum Dissemination Center teams. Winokur was a contributing author of The Young Scientist Series, published by Redleaf Press, a set of teacher and professional development guides for teaching science in preschool. His current work at EDC is in the development and delivery of science education courses based on The Young Scientist Series for early childhood educators. Winokur has presented this early childhood science work at conferences of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). He has also been a member of the Connecting Science and Literacy Project team at EDC, and is co-author of The Essentials of Science and Literacy, and Science and Literacy: A Natural Fit, both published by Heinemann. Winokur received his BS from the University of Pennsylvania and an MEd from Antioch University.