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Bringing scientific inquiry to preschools

This article appeared in the February 25, 2011 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

By Liz Shenaut
Special to the Enterprise

Preschoolers are the newest focus of Explorit Science Center’s traveling educational programs.  

Collaboration began this fall among Explorit, the City of West Sacramento, the Verizon Foundation to implement science programs for children ages 5 and under. The programs are playful, interactive, and relevant to the everyday curiosity of preschoolers.

Justine Jimenez, Director of Early Learning Services for the City of West Sacramento explains the importance of bringing a love of science into preschools.

“Working with kids 0-5 is the most impactful time to work with them,” she said. It’s an early intervention that makes the most sense; it ends up saving in costs down the line incredibly.”

Preschoolers need to get involved in science because it inspires them to explore further— and because they are naturally good at it.

“[Preschoolers] are constantly engaged in the world around them and trying to make sense of it, and so […] the whole scientific process is good for that age,” said Jimenez.

Jimenez reached out last year to Explorit staff to collaborate on the development of preschool science programs. In the fall, Verizon Foundation awarded a grant to the City of West Sacramento and Explorit to make the programs a reality.

Last month, Jimenez and child development consultant Pauline Wooliever of a local organization called Early Years visited Explorit for a professional development session. They trained Explorit’s program staff in skills specific to teaching preschoolers.

Explorit Program Director, Megan Contreras, reports that feedback from pilot programs has been very positive so far.

Within West Sacramento preschools, the programs will reach about 500 children. Jimenez describes the impact she projects this will have on one developmental assessment the students have at the end of each year.

“In the nature, math, and science areas, I believe in the result that kids will be more inspired and interested and excited,” she said.

Since this fall, Explorit has created three different preschool programs under the name Early Childhood Adventures. The topics are: Crazy Critters, Magical Magnets, and Beautiful Bubbles.  

Explorit has been developing a list of interested parents and teachers who will be contacted when the pilot programs are done. Explorit will likely incorporate Early Childhood Adventures into its selection of school programs.

To be placed on the interest list for an Early Childhood Adventure, email Explorit your contact info at, with “Early Childhood Adventures” in the subject line. 
Explorit Science Center’s 3141 5th St. site is the location for programs for groups, astronomy club meetings, Birthday Parties, and Summer Science Camp.  It is also the hub for Explorit’s traveling programs that reach an 18-county region.  The site is open to the public for special events and to groups by reservation. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit

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