4/1/2004

Sesame Street Consults with French, Conezio

When Sesame Street needed national experts in the field of science with preschool-aged children, it turned to the Warner School's own ScienceStart! for help.

Lucia French, associate professor, and Kathy Conezio, doctoral student and research associate, were consulted on the topic of preschool science education, in preparation for the upcoming season. The children's show plans to focus on the concepts of science and problem solving, especially relating to issues of nutrition, obesity, and physical activity in preschool-aged children.

Using their experience with ScienceStart!, an inquiry-based program that uses science as a vehicle to develop language, literacy, and school readiness skills among preschoolers, French and Conezio developed a presentation for about 80 of Sesame Street's creative staff _ script writers, artists, musicians, and songwriters _ who had varying backgrounds in early childhood development.

"Our presentation included information on our underlying assumptions about children as learners _ that they are active learners who are naturally curious about the world around them," says Conezio. "This curiosity is the driving force behind ScienceStart! _ using science as the foundation for a total early childhood education curriculum involving the whole child."

They also explained that science education involves concept building, process learning, and application to real life. "If young people are doing color mixing activities, they would be learning about color words, number concepts like `more' and `less', process skills like observation and data collection, and finally application to real life when they used their knowledge to make tie-dyed shirts," explains Conezio.

The presentation was well received and many of the participants asked questions. "We were asked many times about how nutrition and physical activity could be approached through science and we suggested cooking as a perfect tie-in, as well as topics that tied movement and machines."

They were also asked about how to avoid presenting science as magic, and how much young children can really understand. "The video clips that we showed clearly illustrated that young children are very capable of forming theories about how the world works and participating in activities that inform those theories."

For additional information on the upcoming season of Sesame Street, visit www.sesamestreet.com. For information on ScienceStart!, visit www.sciencestart.com.

Tags: Kathy Conezio, Lucia French, ScienceStart!