The Early Childhood STEM Lab @ ETSU is a group of educators and researchers dedicated to improving the quality of STEM teaching for young children.
The Leadership Team
Alissa A. Lange, PhD, is the director of EC STEM Lab and an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at East Tennessee State University. Prior to joining ETSU, Dr. Lange worked at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, was a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Bogotá, Colombia, and was a U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Educational Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow in early math. Dr. Lange has over 10 years of experience leading or co-leading early STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) teaching and learning initiatives funded with grants totaling over $2.8 million. She led the National Science Foundation-funded preschool STEM professional development project, SciMath-DLL (Kim Brenneman, former PI), and the Math and Science Story Time (MASST) series, which she started in 2012. She has disseminated the results of her work to audiences across the United States and internationally in over 40 conference presentations and workshops for educators, 12 invited presentations, 7 peer-reviewed journal articles, and 3 book-related publications. The 2019 book she co-authored with Kimberly Brenneman and Hagit Mano is entitled "Teaching STEM in the Preschool Classroom: Exploring Big Ideas with 3- to 5-Year-Olds."
Irena Nayfeld, PhD, is an early STEM specialist with EC STEM Lab. With over 12 years of experience, Dr. Nayfeld specializes in developing and enacting inquiry- and project-based learning strategies in schools and community agencies serving culturally and linguistically diverse families, and families from under-resourced backgrounds. She is passionate about bridging research and education to foster critical thinking, curiosity, and a love for learning. Dr. Nayfeld has taught at the preschool and elementary school levels, and received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology from the University of Miami. There, she led projects to evaluate and improve Early Childhood Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs, conduct professional development, and assess impacts on teaching practice and students’ school readiness.
As a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, she worked closely with educators around the country to develop, assess, and scaffold core teaching competencies of pre-service teacher candidates. Currently, Dr. Nayfeld works on multiple projects in New York City and Tennessee to design research-based interventions that create high quality supports for teachers, parents, and schools serving young children in diverse communities. She also works as an Adjunct Professor to teach graduate level courses for early childhood educators.
Hagit Mano, MA., MSc., is an early childhood STEM specialist with over 25 years of experience working with young children in a variety of educational settings including therapeutic day schools, Head Start, after school enrichment programs, museums and private preschools. She has been merging her enthusiasm for science, math and engineering with her passion for teaching to inspire educators and children with the love of learning. Over the years, Ms. Mano has developed early childhood hands-on inquiry-based STEM curricula for classrooms, museums and enrichment programs, and developed and co-led numerous professional development workshops for educators. In recent years she has been working at East Tennessee State University under the leadership of Dr. Alissa Lange, developing and leading workshops, coaching preschool teachers and master teachers, and developing educational support material including on-line courses to enhance the quality of STEM instruction for young children.
We would like to acknowledge many of the wonderful folks who have contributed to our work over the years. Contributors include Rosemary Geiken, Carol Trivette, Daisy Tian, Kim Brenneman (former PI of SciMath-DLL project), Hebbah El-Moslimany, Ellen Frede, Judi Stevenson-García, Alex Figueras-Daniel, Daryl Greenfield, Margaret “Peggy” Freedson, Jennifer Jacobs, Jorie Quinn, Doug Clements, Kwanghee Jung, Jamie Price, and Judy Beavers. Educators from Passaic, Long Branch, Elizabeth, and Union City Public Schools in New Jersey participated in the program and contributed to its development. The SciMath-DLL model began and was substantially developed at the National Institute of Early Education Research - NIEER (www.nieer.org).
Work presented here is made possible by grants from the National Science Foundation (DRL-1019576 & DRL-1417040/DRL-1726082). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.