Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Educational Activities

Science in Pre-K: Teaching Science to Preschoolers

Science in Pre-K at the National Air and Space Museum is a professional development program for District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) teachers. Recognizing the substantial benefits for children who attend preschool education programs, the Museum and DCPS are collaborating to improve pre-kindergarten science.

With advice from nationally recognized leaders in the field of early childhood science education, Museum educators and DCPS developed an intensive course for pre-kindergarten teachers. Using the well-respected “Young Scientist” materials from the Educational Development Center as the basis of the curriculum, teachers learn to facilitate “inquiry learning,” where children are encouraged to make discoveries through hands-on experiences. The curriculum is enhanced by field trips to the Museum to inspire science in the classroom.

Now in its fourth year, the project has directly served 40 teachers, 41 teaching assistants, and over 3,000 students. More importantly, the project has created competency within the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and the District of Columbia Public Schools to improve pre-kindergarten science education.

Science in Pre-K is made possible by PNC Bank’s “Grow Up Great with Science” program.

Photo: Students in a classroom observe their shadows after their teacher participated in Science in Pre-K professional development about shadows and light at the Museum. The science goals for the three- and four-year-olds are to notice that a shadow needs a light source and an object, the shadow look like the object, and a shadow will move or change when the object or light source moves.