The Head Start on Engineering (HSE) project is an ongoing research-practice collaborative focused on simultaneously understanding and supporting engineering-related interest development in early childhood for low-income families. The project is motivated by three critical needs:

a) Fostering science and engineering interests for early learners in order to support healthy development and lifelong learning;

b) Providing access to quality engineering education experiences for low-income families in order to address historical inequities and prepare families for a science- and technology-rich world; and

c) Building knowledge for educators and researchers about science and engineering interests in early childhood and how they can be effectively supported.

The HSE initiative includes both program development and implementation, as well as research with families.


         Family using a Head Start on Engineering activity kit at home.

  • Program development—Since 2015, the team has collaborated with Head Start staff and families to develop a multi-component, bilingual, family-centered program designed to engage preschool children and their parents and caregivers in the engineering process.

  • Research—The development and implementation of HSE has created a unique context for studying how parents and children, as a family system, develop interest in engineering, how the interests persist and evolve, and the resources and support structures that can best foster interest development over time.

HSE is founded on prior research, built on strong community involvement, and designed to catalyze system-level changes in how families are supported. Explore this website to learn more about the team, program design, research studies, and project publications.

Head Start on Engineering is funded in part by the National Science Foundation (DRL-1515628), Oregon Community Foundation, Collins Foundation, Boeing Corporation, University of Notre Dame, and Juan Young Trust. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.