Science. Technology. Engineering. Mathematics.

The early years are a perfect time to encourage children’s explorations and their natural problem solving abilities. How do you break down the complex concepts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for young children?

Request information for upcoming 2017-2018 early childhood education conferences and events, experience a series of light hearted and awe inspiring journeys to unlock the secret world of science, technology, engineering and math.

Opening Minds is the best of the best in STEM education for early learners. Join us as we go in depth on how to integrate STEM education in your classroom-whether at home, in school, your public library, parks or playground, in urban and natural environments, or in the forest.

NEW! In partnership with our local public broadcasting station, WTTW11, an Opening Minds to STEM for Little Learners Early Childhood Education Event


The Magic, Science, and Engineering of Connecting Urban Kids to Nature

The science is clear, green spaces reduce challenging behaviors and stress in children. How can we connect young children living in urban areas to nature where none seem to exist? Join our behavioral scientists, environmentalists, architects and nature enthusiasts to learn how you can create magical green spaces in any urban environment which change children’s outlook on life. Join us and find out how you can take part in our Fairy House Challenge!

Friday, June 16, 2017


Location: WTTW11 Public Broadcasting Station

5400 N. St. Louis Avenue

Chicago, IL 60625


Refreshments served. Free Parking.

3 CEU/CPDU credit hours

Advanced Registration Required. No Walk-Ins.


Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D.

Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., is a Teaching Assistant Professor and Children’s Environments & Behavior Researcher at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.  Dr. Faber Taylor is recognized internationally for her research on the health benefits of green spaces for children. Her research evaluates the relationships between children’s exposure to green space, in a variety of settings, and children’s functioning, to discover how to design spaces and communities to be more supportive of healthy development. Her diverse published findings include such benefits to children as more creative play, greater concentration, and greater self-discipline. Those findings along with her groundbreaking research on the benefits of nature for children with ADHD have resulted in extensive coverage in the media, including Science News, the British Medical Journal, Prevention Magazine, Psychology Today, Globe and Mail, Parents Magazine, Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Wildlife World Edition, Polityka.PL Spoleczenstwo, Kashmir Monitor, Parenting Circle India, Bebe Magazine Brazil, and several radio interviews. She has been invited to present her research findings and their potential applications to a variety of national and international audiences including landscape architects, urban planners, early and middle childhood educators, horticulturists, natural resources managers, and parks and recreation program directors, and families.


Mark Dale

Mark Dale is the Education Director at Winding Trails in Farmington, Connecticut. Winding Trails is a non-profit organization dedicated to recreation and education with 380 acres of woodlands and waterways and hosts 100,000 visitors per year. He holds degrees in business, secondary education and a master’s degree in environmental education. Mark develops, organizes and teaches outdoor environmental education and coordinates conservation projects. Mark Dale loves building fairy houses with children because it’s all about placed based interaction with the natural world using your imagination and creativity.


Diane Merrion

Diane Merrion is the Agriculture Literacy Coordinator for the Cook County Farm Bureau, a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to serve all our members of the Cook County Farm Bureau® with meaningful and beneficial programs that reflect our agricultural heritage. In 2014, Diane received the Perry Schneider Special Award for contributions improving and expanding Illinois agriculture education from the Illinois Leadership Council. She is a graduate of the IL Farm Bureau ALOT (Ag Leaders of Tomorrow) Program in 2015 and holds an Honorary FFA Degree that was awarded by the Chicago High School for Ag Sciences. Our Ag Literacy Mission is to expand students’ awareness and appreciation for the importance of agriculture everywhere.


Angela Esposito

Manager of Studio Programs at Chicago Architecture Foundation

Ms. Esposito manages a branch of the Education Department with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Her focus is Pre-K – 8th-grade informal education. She has a passion in advancing girls and people of color in STEM education and careers. Ms. Esposito graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in Business and Technology, with an emphasis in Interior Architecture & Design. Currently, Ms. Esposito is pursuing graduate studies in Gender Diversity/Women’s Studies as well as Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Notre Dame.

The Magic, Science, and Engineering of Connecting Urban Kids to Nature

Friday, June 16, 2017


Location: WTTW11 Public Broadcasting Station

5400 N. St. Louis Avenue

Chicago, IL 60625

Refreshments served. Free Parking.

3 CEU/CPDU credit hours

Advanced Registration Required. No Walk-Ins.

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Permissions: By entering the event premises, you hereby authorize Opening Minds and WTTW, a division of Window to the World Communications, Inc., an Illinois not-for-profit corporation and licensee of public television station WTTW, to record on film, tape or otherwise, your likeness, image, voice, interview, and performance and to use or authorize others to use this recording or film, or any part thereof, on an irrevocable and unlimited basis in all markets and media now known or hereafter devised throughout the world in perpetuity.   This media may also be used to publicize or promote the program, or for institutional purpose. By entering the event premises, you waive all rights you may have to any claims for payment or royalties.


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By Kelly Durov, Youth Services Librarian,

The STEM Education Movement in Public Libraries by P.B. Dusenbery


Online Access to Movies and Television Shows

• Hoopla

• Freegal

• Tumblebooks



Inspiration for Classroom Activities

STEM in Libraries
Blog with ideas for libraries on STEM activities. Entries are submitted by various public librarians. Many activities could easily be used in a classroom setting as well.

Kelly Durov on Pinterest –

See Kelly’s STEM inspiration as well as inspiration for many library programs. Many of these ideas would work in a classroom.

A Sample Learning Experience





Parents, Caregivers & Teachers Engaging with Nature Cat




Click Here


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ABOUT STEM for Little Learners

WHAT IS STEAM? STEAM is an educational approach to learning that includes Science, Technology, Engineering, the ARTS and Mathematics.

WHY IS STEAM IMPORTANT? Innovation comes from bold new ideas. STEM to STEAM approaches to learning provides young children with a process to wonder, critique, inquire and innovate which shapes young children’s ability to solve tomorrow’s problems and become a 21st Century leader.

HOW TO SPARK CHILDREN’S INTEREST IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATH? Gail Conway, CEO, Opening Minds says, “Stop trying to teach skills in isolation and instead focus on teaching children how the world works.  According to Falk and Dierking, only 5% of learning happens at school, the real learning happens informally. This is why PLAY is critical in young children’s development and learning, and why program designs need to consider the informal learning opportunities that happen outside of school time and the classroom.

Life experience is one of our greatest teachers. Consequently, program designs need to consider the informal learning opportunities that happen outside of school time and the classroom. STEM for Little Learners designs and builds your capacity to develop learning experiences for the 21st Century. Our belief is learning happens everywhere- home, school, community and forest.”

We work with two trusted community resources to reach both adults and children- our National Network of Public Broadcasting Television Stations and Public Libraries, to demystify fears and build excitement and knowledge for STEM effectively increasing access to STEM Early Learning Opportunities in impoverished neighborhoods for thousands.

Emmy Award winning brothers, Adam and David Rudman, and Spiffy Pictures are bridging the gap between traditional principles of outdoor education that seek to break the media habits of children, by using media as a vehicle to actually get them to step away from the screen and reconnect with nature. One of the main motivations for creating the PBS Kids show, Nature Cat, was to help alleviate the fears of exploring nature for both parents and kids.  Adam and David worked with a curriculum/content advisor on Nature Cat to create stories that model irresistible outdoor discovery through adventure. Each story aims to inspire kids to get out of their seats and go outdoors to “play the show”.

“As a young woman, Kelly Durov, Youth Services Manager at Northbrook Public Library has been challenging typical Library program and service models to bring Libraries to the forefront of 21st century learning and family engagement. Kelly’s interest in STEM started because she was looking for a way to engage school age boys at the Library. However, the power of the Library to engage young girls in subject areas that they have not typically been encouraged to pursue quickly became a priority in Kelly’s programming plans. Kelly has engaged children from age 2 to 18 in STEM activities in public Library programs as well as parents and teachers.  Kelly believes that public libraries are uniquely poised to lead innovation in STEM programs and services in a relaxed environment that lends itself to family engagement and experience.”

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To learn more about our customized services for Librarians, Early Childhood Professionals, Schools, Businesses and Communitiescontact us!


In the summer of 2014, STEM for Little Learners™ was piloted in ten libraries throughout the Chicago area. We served 499 children with great praise and results. We served children from birth to age 11 years during the pilot. Young children learned to ask questions they never considered before; to discern appearance from reality; to collaborate to create bigger pools of light to experiment with shadows; to observe how the light can change shape and color depending on where it is focused; that flashlights and tape recorders are technical devices; that engineers plan how a device will turn on and off (and that hitting the device on the floor is not something an engineer would plan). We learned, there is always more to learn about meeting the interests and needs of children- as we asked children to describe their documentation and drawings on their pillowcases- so, we could crack the culture code for each of the communities and families we visited. Most importantly, we demonstrated and modeled for the librarians, children and families alike how learning happens through relationships and to create lifelong learners, we need to teach and focus on concepts so young children can make sense of their world for now and for always. Questioning, predicting, observing and exploring are the foundation to STEM learning and can be taught in developmentally appropriate ways in early childhood-whether at home, in school, or in the forests.

Cathy Jo Williams, a High School Science Teacher for the Dusable.Leadership Academy who attended with her grandchild said, “This was a great way to engage young students in science exploration. The world is science. Some of these young people will grow up to be scientists just because of this experience.

Thank you!” For more information on how to bring this to your community, call us at 312-427-5399.

Connect Urban Kids to Nature Event

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