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Student working on arts & crafts.
Students working on pottery.
Teacher assisting student with science project.

A Head Start on Science

Encouraging a Sense of Wonder


About “Head Start on Science”

  • Head Start on Science began with the Department of Science Education of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), in cooperation with the Head Start Program of the Long Beach Unified School District.


  • The goal of a Head Start on Science was to foster a lifelong interest in science among children in early childhood settings.


  • The focus for the activities is to encourage a sense of wonder among our youngest scientist.


  • Early childhood and elementary teachers build on the “sense of wonder” present in all children.


  • A Head Start on Science emphasizes encouraging a sense of wonder within young children through their use of the science processes.

The Importance of Science Processes


  • There are six major science processes that we will explore in the Head Start on Science training: observing, classifying, communicating, predicting, inferring, and measuring.


  • There are four processes that we feel are developmentally most appropriate for very young children:

    1. Observing: seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling.

    2. Communicating: oral, written, and pictorial.

    3. Comparing: sensory comparisons and linear, weight, capacity, and quantity comparisons.

    4. Classifying: grouping, sequencing, and data gathering.


  • The science processes that young children engage in are more important than learning science facts; however, science content is still there. Children learn about their everyday world by examining and exploring.


  • Science processes occur in all parts of the classroom and outdoors, not just at the science table.


  • The science processes centers on the idea that how children learn science should resemble what scientists do. Scientists observe, classify, infer, carry out experiments, and communicate their findings.


  • The science processes also introduces the idea of human intellectual development. From this point of view, processes are in a broad sense “ways of processing information.” Such processing grows more complex as the individual develops from early childhood on. The intellectual skills that are developed allow a child to get much more information from a simple observation than they could have before these skills were developed. Therefore, a child observing a snail will see much more than just a slow-moving object in the grass. She or he will notice the sticky trail the snail leaves, will compare the snail to other slow-moving objects, will observe what the snail eats, and will begin to ask questions about and comment on the snail’s environment and other things of interest.

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