Preschoolers’ Creativity During STEM Play

Dec 11, 2019 | 2019-20 Theses

Allyson Snyder

Major: Communication Studies

Allyson graduated from Northwestern in 2019 with a B.A. in Communication Studies. While at NU, she was one of the Education and Engagement Directors for Imagine U and the lab coordinator for the Center on Media and Human Development. Allyson now works as a lab manager for the Early Development Lab at the University of Virginia.


In the past few years, educators have been pushing for an integration of the arts into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning to promote innovation and creativity in these fields. The present study explores the relation between creativity and STEM learning among young children in digital and non-digital contexts, and how creativity affects STEM engagement. Parent-child dyads consisting of one parent and one child aged 4-and-a-half to 5-years old participated in a repeated measures experiment during which they played with magnetic tiles, similar to blocks, and then with a coding application on a tablet. Levels of creativity during non-digital play, performance on the coding application and parent report of children’s STEM engagement are measured to better understand their relation. Results show that there may be a connection between creativity and STEM learning, but this relation is still unclear. This study will contribute to the development of STEM curriculum and its incorporation of creative activities in the preschool years.