WARREN (WWJ) — The PNC Foundation has awarded a $10,000 grant to expand Macomb Community College’s Physics Playground program, which introduces preschoolers to basic physics concepts through engaging, hands-on learning activities.
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education has never been more important, and the program is designed to help demystify and develop an early interest in these areas, sparking the imagination of the country’s future physicists and engineers.
Physics Playground, which was piloted in 2012, is a curriculum that employs a set of fun educational tools — such as small catapults, toys, ramps and pulleys — to teach concepts such as the forces of gravity, air, sound and friction. The PNC grant is funding classroom kits that will be made available to Head Start teachers in Macomb County and will bring the Physics Playground curriculum to approximately 480 preschoolers. Three additional kits are also being created for use in Macomb Community College early childhood education classes.
In addition, a Physics Playground event will be held in October at the college’s South Campus in Warren. Macomb faculty and students in early childhood studies and physics expect to work with approximately 200 children enrolled in Macomb County’s Head Start program, and their parents.
“Physics might seem like an advanced subject for young children, but it really isn’t,” said Kate Cryderman Cole, Macomb Community College’s early childhood studies program coordinator and the lead faculty member for Physics Playground. “Basic physics and physical sciences come down to ideas about the physical world that children understand intuitively. We have developed an age-appropriate approach to teaching physics that is fun for children, parents and educators. The feedback we have received has been positive.”
The PNC Foundation provided the grant in support of PNC Grow Up Great, the company’s multiyear, $350 million, bilingual program in early childhood education.
“The mission of the Physics Playground program is consistent with PNC’s longstanding commitment to early childhood education,” said Ric DeVore, PNC’s regional president for Detroit and Southeast Michigan, speaking on behalf of the PNC Foundation. “PNC recognizes the critical role that access to high-quality early childhood education plays in the lives of area children, their families and, ultimately, our economy.”
With nearly 48,000 students, Macomb Community College is in the top 2 percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities.