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Welcome to the Head Start on Engineering (HSE) program! HSE is a multi-component, bilingual, family-centered program integrated into the Head Start system and designed to engage preschool children (ages 3 to 5) and their parents and caregivers from low-income backgrounds in the engineering process. The overarching goal of HSE is to help families develop long-term interests in engineering and science so that they will have the skills, knowledge, and confidence they need to be successful in a science- and technology-rich world. In other words, more than school readiness, this program is about helping children and their families develop a passion for engineering and science that motivates them to engage with these topics throughout their lives. All materials are in Spanish and English and all program events are presented in both languages by bilingual staff, with attention to the low literacy levels of some Head Start families.

HSE provides families with age-appropriate, story-based engineering design challenges for the home and then connects these to a system of strategically aligned experiences for parents and children, including parent workshops, classroom activities, home visits, online videos, and science center field trips. The program focuses on the engineering design process, rather than the field of engineering, as a topic and skill that is highly relevant to the everyday lives of families, helps make engineering feel approachable, and easily connects to early childhood play and learning practices.

HSE Program Components

The program guide provides an overview of HSE for early childhood educators and informal science education professionals. The primary components of HSE are:

  • Professional development workshops for Head Start teachers and staff
  • Parents Parent workshops
  • Take-home activity kits and online videos
  • Home visits and ongoing support
  • Complementary classroom activities
  • Science center field trips
  • Ongoing research and evaluation

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  Connected Head Start on Engineering family learning experiences.

Individuals and organizations are free to use, reproduce, and adapt the guide and the HSE materials for non-commercial purposes provided that the source, authors, and funders are acknowledged.




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.