STEM in early childhood education: Using the inquiry approach to scaffold learning

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

New Zealand International Research in Early Childhood Education


ChildForum Research Network


School of Education




Roberts, P. & Knaus, M.(2018) STEM in early childhood education: Using the inquiry approach to scaffold learning. New Zealand international Research in Early Childhood Education. 21 (2), 71-84. Available here


STEM education is gaining worldwide attention due to its perceived links with economic growth and prosperity of developed countries. Research also indicates the significance of integrating the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics as beneficial in enhancing children’s knowledge, skills and dispositions. Although the focus on these areas is usually targeted at the primary and high school years, this commentary paper argues that not only is it important to start STEM education in early childhood settings but that it is a natural connection. STEM aligns closely with early childhood pedagogy of hands-on exploration and the integration of learning across areas using an inquiry approach. Outlined in this paper are ways that STEM and the inquiry-based process can be successfully implemented into early childhood settings. It also identifies how early childhood educators can perhaps position themselves in the current debate.

Access Rights

subscription content