Mac Eng teams up with community partners to teach toddlers STEM fundamentals – Faculty of Engineering

Mac Eng teams up with community partners to teach toddlers STEM fundamentals

The Engineering Outreach Team is bringing STEM education to children through innovative programming with community partners.

woman standing in front of shelf of books at the library.

A baby bounces up and down to the beat on their parents’ hip. A toddler carefully rotates and manipulates a cube into a shape sorter. A pre-schooler notices which bath toys float, and which sink in the tub.

These children are developing the fundamentals of STEM learning. They are building mathematical pathways, three-dimensional thinking and exploring the scientific method.   

For the first time in Canada, McMaster Engineering’s Community Outreach is working to amplify these experiences for children and for their caregivers through a variety of programs. This exciting, cutting-edge work harnesses the power of community collaboration to support children and families where they live. 

By investing in the youngest children in our community, McMaster Engineering is planting the seeds of our shared Brighter World. We are innovating towards a future where the talent, and diversity of our students has deep roots.

Heather Sheardown, Dean of McMaster Engineering

Why are we doing this? 

The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media found that, “Parents are six times as likely to think of scientists as men rather than women and are more than eight times as likely to think of engineers as men rather than women.”

Drawing the Future, international research by Education and Employers, concluded that, “By the age of eight, girls and boys routinely develop gendered ideas about jobs and careers, with long term implications.”   

In the Faculty of Engineering, we are boldly envisioning a world where all caregivers, regardless of their child’s gender, race, social economic level, can know that their children are powerful STEM learners, and that Engineering has a welcoming place for them.   

This fall we are launched a series of programming.

woman standing in front of shelf of books at the library.

1. Facilitated story times and plays hosted at community locations. 

We’ve teamed up with the Hamilton Public Library, Grimsby Public Library and the Hamilton Area EarlyONs to offer programing at their locations. 

Families with toddlers and pre-schoolers can participate in songs, finger plays and stories that introduce age-appropriate STEM concepts. Families will also enjoy a curated play experience, where STEM learning will be highlighted for caregivers. 

a pile of pompoms in front of brown bags.

2. Take-home kits. 

Is there anything more exciting than a surprise goody bag? We have seeded take-home kits at locations in the Greater Hamilton Area including EarlyON centers, Six Nations Public Library and the YWCA child care centers. Each kit contains open-ended STEM materials and a brochure with play prompts and information on supporting STEM play for caregivers. 

two people looking at contents in a binder.

3. Professional Development.

Front line staff at Hamilton EarlyON centers participated in a hands-on training to deepen their understanding of how Engineering Play presents in children and ways to both support it and encourage caregivers to do the same.  

multiple images of toddlers playing.

4. Check-out kits at the Library. 

These robust kits contain toys to encourage STEM play in toddlers and pre-schoolers. You’ll also find a child’s book and adult book that delves deeply in STEM play activities. They can be checked out like regular Library materials and returned after the borrowing period. Learn more.