On July 13-16, early childhood educators from across Texas participated in a Texas Education Agency sponsored Professional Development Academy (PDA) titled, Sharing BLOCKS Research. Attendees engaged in hands-on science and mathematics activities that were part of the Building Baseline Objectives for Children’s Knowledge and Skills in Science (BLOCKS) Project, initially funded by the National Science Foundation. Drs. Mary Hobbs, Bob Williams and Brian Anderson presented content as well as research outcomes. Austin Independent School District BLOCKS teacher-researchers Diana McMillan, Thelma Herrera, Crystal Young and Susana Guzman-Ortega contributed anecdotal stories and shared student artifacts.
The PDA was held at Flat Creek Ranch near Johnson City, where the native flora and fauna provided materials for many of the activities. The content focused on Physical Science for the first day and Life science the Second. Favorite activities included the construction and testing of ramps and the use of digital microscopes that the participants received to closely examine plants, animals, rocks, and fossils found on the site. One evening’s task was to set traps for small organisms to be examined, counted and measured the following day. All activities were based on the Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines.
Knowledge gained and materials distributed during the PDA will be used to provide professional development to other early childhood educators over the coming months.