Nurturing A Proactive Spirit in our Youngest Scientists

How do we teach children to care? How do they feel connected to their communities and know they can make a difference in the world? A few members of the 2015/2016 MSU UrbanSTEM fellowship believe that building connections at an early age is the key.  They believe that nurturing three simple components can make a huge difference. Oscar Newman, Valia Thompson, and Tracey Walker Hines are on a mission to nurture a proactive spirit in our young scientists through their ImagineIT projects.

In his ImagineIT project,  Oscar Newman highlights that we should empower our students by “creating a special bond with the natural world.”  He emphasizes that as educators if we develop this at a young age, children won’t develop a feeling of helplessness.  They become natural at wanting to make a difference. He believes that he can do this through a STEM-based approach.  He also explains that if we reach children at a young age, they begin to instinctively view nature as something worth fighting for. His ivideo is a wonderful example of how his ImagineIT project supports the idea of cultivating connections with the natural world as a way to empower our young children.

Valia Thompson is also on a mission to embrace good ideas and not let them go to waste.  Her ImagineIT project zooms in on how one individual can make a difference, despite their age!  She states, “A change starts with an idea.  Your idea can help your community.  Seeing your changed community can spark new ideas to change the world.”  She believes that this scaffolding effect can have a large impact on making a BIG difference.  Her inspirational ivideo is a great example of encouraging our younger generation to stop thinking about it, and DO IT! 

Tracey Walker Hines also supports this notion. Her ImagineIT project is centered around building communication skills in order to strengthen small voices that can be very influential. She wants to create a population of students who easily exchange ideas in multiple ways in order to convey their messages or opinions. Our students have a variety of technological tools that allow them to communicate with a global audience and share their thoughts/work through social media. She wants to see and hear the “language of science” all around her!  Hines wants to foster the natural curiosity in her young students through the use of science inquiry.  Her ivideo emphasizes her belief that fostering communication skills with our young students will make a huge impact on others.

Our students can make a difference by nurturing their good ideas, communication skills and building connections with nature at a young age through a STEM-based approach. These educators believe that providing early positive experiences are essential prerequisites in being lifelong proactive citizens.