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CHICAGO—Two new Erikson Institute programs that will advance early learning STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) have been honored by The White House for their commitment to “promoting STEM learning across the country.” Erikson, the nation’s premier graduate school in child development and an organization that impacts young children and families through research, service and advocacy, was the only Chicago-based organization whose commitments to increasing access to high-quality STEM education were honored Thursday by The White House as it kicked off an Early Learning STEM symposium.

“It is an honor for Erikson Institute to receive this important national recognition for our efforts to advance STEM for young children in early learning environments, classrooms and at home” said Geoffrey A. Nagle, Ph. D., Erikson’s president and CEO. “Through research, education and empowering parents and teachers, we are deepening our commitment to early STEM learning with a particular focus on the areas of technology and math.”

The White House highlighted two new Erikson programs offered through the Early Math Collaborative and the Technology in Early Childhood Center. Leaders of both Erikson initiatives were invited to Washington, D.C., on Thursday to participate in the national early STEM symposium and share ideas.

Erikson’s two new programs include:

  • The Technology in Early Childhood Center will launch an online repository for STEM learning plans that align to early childhood development goals; organize a conference to focus on teacher preparation for teaching STEM to young children with developmental and learning disabilities; develop a technology integration approach that supports early STEM learning; and, in collaboration with the national Association of Children’s Museums and the Association for Library Services to Children, deliver STEM professional development to library and museum educators across the country.
  • The Early Math Collaborative, in partnership with the City of Chicago and with support from the National Science Foundation, will launch Collaborative Math, a new professional development model designed to establish excellence in early math teaching in early childhood programs. The Early Math Collaborative will implement the new model at 28 Head Start sites in Chicago.

The White House symposium, co-hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Invest in Us, an initiative by the First Five Years Fund, was attended by Jie-Qi Chen, Ph.D., senior vice president for Academic Affairs, dean of faculty, and founder of Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative; Jennifer McCray, Ph.D., assistant research scientist and director of the Early Math Collaborative; and Chip Donohue, Ph.D., dean of Distance Learning and Continuing Education and director of Erikson’s Technology in Early Childhood Center.

In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Barack Obama challenged the country to provide every student with authentic STEM experiences to learn subjects like science, math and computer science. Building on the president’s early learning and “Educate to Innovate” agendas, The White House is hoping to promote early STEM learning by identifying research gaps, best practices and education technologies to support our youngest learners, parents, and caregivers, educators and community leaders with early STEM education.

While Erikson was the sole Chicago-based organization whose specific commitments to STEM were honored by the White House, other Chicago organizations also were invited to participate in the symposium, including the Early Childhood STEM Working Group, which is led by Erikson along with the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Chicago. The group is composed of scholars, policymakers, curriculum developers, and educators from around the United States who share a common goal and vision of universal access to high-quality, developmentally appropriate STEM education for preschool children. The group, made possible through a grant from The Chicago Community Trust, will make a set of achievable recommendations to educational leaders and policy makers to promote research, practice and advocacy that will lead to high-quality STEM experiences for all young children.

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ABOUT ERIKSON INSTITUTE

Located in Chicago, Erikson Institute is the nation’s premier graduate school in child development and a leading force in improving the lives of young children and their families through education, applied research, direct service programs and advocacy. We uniquely prepare the next generation of leaders in the fields of child development, social work and early childhood education, and innovate to bring new ideas to early learning environments and classrooms to ensure that all children have equitable opportunities to realize their potential.