STEM Integration in the Montessori Early Childhood Classroom
In today’s world of education, there is a growing interest and emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) concepts in the classroom. Montessori education is well known for its hands-on, student-direct approach to learning. STEM also encourages hands-on, active participation from students. The purpose of this action research study is to observe the effects of technology and engineering activities on the Montessori environment. More specifically, how do these supplemental materials affect student engagement with traditional Montessori materials? STEM, more specifically Technology and Engineering, materials were introduced into a Montessori Children’s House classroom over a period of five weeks. Data was gathered through parent and student surveys, observation journals and a scientific engagement checklist in which the teacher observed student engagement with classroom materials over a period of at least two minutes. The results show an increase in student engagement overall, but a decrease in engagement with Montessori-specific materials. Once the technology and engineering activities were introduced into the classroom, the students seemed to gravitate toward those materials over traditional Montessori materials. A small-scale study such as this would benefit from more time to determine if the attraction to these “new” materials in the classroom would diminish over time. However, this study could link STEM activities to higher student engagement in the classroom.