ChildCare Education Institute Offers No-Cost Online Course on Engineering Explorations in Early Childhood

ChildCare Education Institute® (CCEI), an online child care training provider dedicated exclusively to the early care and education workforce, offers CUR128: Engineering Explorations in Early Childhood as a no-cost trial course to new CCEI users September 1-30, 2022.

Young children are naturally curious about the world around them.  Educators often focus on exploring children′s questions about the natural environment in preschool and early childhood science curricula that explores plants, animals, and the weather.  Today, the environment that surrounds children represents a mix of natural and human-made elements.  This natural inclination for curiosity, inquiry, and investigation is not only the cornerstone of early childhood development but is also a key component of thinking like an engineer.

It is helpful for children to know about the many opportunities that exist in the field of science.  In addition to teaching children about community helpers, it is important for educators to tell them about jobs they could pursue in different areas like civil engineer, structural engineer, electrical engineer, and environmental engineer.  To be a successful engineer, one must adopt a particular way of thinking about the world. Thinking like an engineer requires people to truly understand others′ needs and seek solutions to meet those needs.  With practice, children can learn to apply design thinking to different areas of their lives.

The pillars of empathy, ideation, and experimentation are perfectly aligned with children′s skills in early childhood.  Thinking about others′ needs, coming up with new ideas, and experimenting with materials are key features of early learning curricula.  Some may say that being an engineer is similar to the way young children interact with the world. However, these skills are immature and require lots of practice to develop fully. Teaching children how to think and work like an engineer can be a valuable strategy that will prepare them for the workforce and help them become better members of the broader community.

One of the significant long-term benefits of early exposure to engineering is to ensure that groups underrepresented in engineering fields get equal access to this content and equal opportunities to gain confidence and interest in these fields beginning in early childhood.  Early exposure can negate stereotypes and provide children with equal opportunities.  Research has shown that boys and girls develop different occupational orientations during early childhood, influencing their later career choices.

Basic stereotypes begin to develop in children around two to three years of age.  Despite this, most STEM interventions for engaging girls and young women in engineering happen in middle and high school, often after many girls and young women have decided they aren′t interested in these fields.

This course provides participants with an understanding of how to support young children’s (PreK-2nd grade) learning of engineering and the engineering design process in hands-on, playful, and creative ways. Participants will explore foundational facts about different types of engineers and engineering and learn the Engineering Design Process steps. It will provide examples of teaching and pedagogical approaches, materials, and tools that can be used to foster fun and engaging engineering explorations in early childhood. Participants will also explore best practices for teaching engineering, where to find engineering curriculum resources, and strategies for developing an engineering curriculum for young children.

“An early introduction to engineering can encourage all students, especially girls and minorities typically underrepresented in engineering, to consider engineering as a career,” says Maria C. Taylor, President of CCEI.  “There are so many foundational elements that can be learned in early childhood that encourage an interest in engineering principles.”

CUR128: Engineering Explorations in Early Childhood is a two-hour, intermediate-level course and grants 0.2 IACET CEU upon successful completion.  This course is also offered in Spanish as ESP_CUR128.  Current CCEI users with active, unlimited annual subscriptions can register for professional development courses at no additional cost when logged in to their CCEI account. Users without subscriptions can purchase child care training courses as individual or block hours through CCEI online enrollment.

For more information, visit or call 1.800.499.9907, prompt 3, Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. EDT

 ChildCare Education Institute

ChildCare Education Institute® provides high-quality, distance education certificates and child care training programs in an array of child care settings, including preschool centers, family child care, prekindergarten classrooms, nanny care, online daycare training and more. Over 150 English and Spanish child care training courses are available online to meet licensing, recognition program, and Head Start Requirements. CCEI also has online certification programs that provide the coursework requirement for national credentials including the CDA, Director and Early Childhood Credentials.  CCEI, a Council for Professional Recognition CDA Gold Standard™ training provider, is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and is accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

Reframing Failure

In the September edition of the CCEI newsletter, we share numerous strategies and resources related to exploring engineering with children. Engineering activities are great opportunities for children to not only explore fundamental science concepts, but also build their creative, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration skills.

One resource that engineers use to guide their work is called the engineering design process which requires engineers to ask questions, brainstorm solutions, build and test prototypes, and perfect the solutions they create. Within this process, there is lots of room for failure, but the failures don’t hinder the process. That is because engineers are trained to look at failure as a vital learning opportunity.

When they test a new product and it fails, they analyze the problem and head back to the drawing board to make adjustments.

Unfortunately, accepting failure, let alone enthusiastically welcoming it, is not really a common practice. Failure has gotten a bad rap. Generally speaking, we feel bad when we fail. Many of us shrink a little bit when we experience failure. Other people look at us differently when we fail (or so we think).

Early childhood is when many of us learned how to respond to failure, mainly by watching how people around us responded to failure, both ours and theirs. Watching someone crumble under the weight of failure sends a powerful message. Having our own failures met with harsh responses sends an even more powerful message.

So, how do we help children recognize the value that exists within failed attempts? You guessed it – we have to change how we view failure. This is hard work. However, when you look carefully you can see that there are two choices; to learn from the experience and move on or to succumb to fear and insecurity.

In an early learning environment, there are ways to demonstrate an acceptance of failure that are less risky or weighty. For example, you wouldn’t talk with children about a failed relationship but you could talk with them about how you got lost taking a detour to the grocery store. You could talk about how you failed to make it to the library yesterday, so today you don’t have the book that you had planned to read to them today.

In these conversations, you could share how you got into the situation, how you felt, and most importantly, what you learned and what you are going to do differently in the future.

This same approach should be used when children make failed attempts in the classroom.

  • Mistakes happen.
  • They can make us feel uncomfortable.
  • What can we learn from the experience?
  • What can we do differently next time?
  • How can we fix it?

So, go out there and make lots of mistakes; they really are a great way to learn.

Best of luck as you begin the new school year!