The RISE Project

Readiness through Integrative Science and Engineering

Led by Christine McWayne and Jayanthi Mistry at Tufts University and colleagues, Daryl Greenfield from the University of Miami, Betty Zan at the University of Northern Iowa, and Kimberly Brenneman at the Heising-Simons Foundation (and formerly, the National Institute of Early Education Research – NIEER at Rutgers University), the RISE project focuses on developing ecologically valid, culturally relevant integrative preschool curriculum components and home-school connections to support young dual language learners’ (DLL’s) school success.

Two main aspects of RISE are: (1) science, technology and engineering (STE) early learning; and (2) home-school connections (HSC) forged through authentic exploration of families’ funds of knowledge, daily activities, and home routines with their children related to STE. Through the RISE project, we are co-constructing integrative STE curriculum with Head Start teachers and families, informed by national and state science and engineering standards, while focusing on relationship-building, capacity-building, and continuity as key aspects of the curriculum development and implementation process.

An initial randomized controlled trial in 40 Head Start classrooms demonstrated positive impacts of the RISE approach on preschool teachers’ attitudes and beliefs towards science; higher impact on: frequency of teachers’ science and engineering practices with children; teachers’ comfort in planning and aligning their curriculum with state and national standards;  using home-school connections to enrich curriculum;  families’ experience of cultural and relational barriers to family engagement.

Home-School Connections

Home-School Connections (HSC) in the RISE project “flip the script” on our traditional notions of family engagement, by seeking to bring children’s out-of-school contexts into classrooms. By building respectful two-way relationships between teachers and families, teachers come to understand and support families’ unique contributions to their children’s learning. This, in the RISE approach to family engagement, the home-to-school flow of information is just as important as the school-to-home flow of information.

STE Curriculum

STE stands for Science, Technology and Engineering.  Children are naturally curious about the natural and human-made world around them.  We can support STE curriculum in a number of ways to connect, deepen and extend children’s learning.