How Cultivating Science Identity Can Form STEM Superstars

Educators Changing the Way We Perceive Science

Children are born using science skills and practices to explore and make sense of the world around them. To succeed in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – education and careers later in life, that natural curiosity must be cultivated into a strong science identity – a sense of self that includes feeling capable of understanding and contributing to science. The earlier this identity is formed, the greater the opportunity of future success in STEM. Unfortunately, the early childhood classroom does not often include the development of a lifelong passion for nature and science. 

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Early childhood educators from western Colorado engage in professional learning on developing science identity in their students. (Photo/ Christina Lee)

As we listened to preschool educators describe the obstacles that keep them from engaging their students with science, we discovered a recurring theme: Early childhood teachers avoid science because their own science identities were never fully developed, and they were passing this timidness towards science on to their students. So, the Museum’s ExciteEd team, in collaboration with Clayton Early Learning and The Eureka! McConnell Science Museum, set out to change educators’ perceptions about what science is and how it can be taught using strategies that capitalize on the innate interests of infants and toddlers. These partners brought their wealth of experience to bear on this project and shared their knowledge around best practices in the early childhood classroom with our professional development team who typically focus on primary and secondary education. They helped us set our objectives for our workshop series rooted in what they saw their own teachers struggling with and helped us develop classroom interventions that would resonate with early childhood teachers.

This fall, we plan to bring our workshop series Cultivating Curiosity: Developing Science Identities in Early Childhood Students and Educators to even more teachers through our continued work with our existing partners and through new partnerships with Denver Preschool Program and Denver Early Childhood Council! 

If you’d like to book an Early childhood professional development session for educators, send us an email at [email protected]. Our virtual program “Astrotauts to the Moon” for children ages 3-5 is coming this fall! Stay tuned at Virtual Science Academy : Denver Museum of Nature & Science ( 

We’d like to thank Hal and Ann Logan for their contributions that allowed for the development of these programs. 

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