Early Childhood BLOCKS - Building Baseline Objectives for Children’s Knowledge and Skills in ScienceResponding to the Texas Legislature’s HB 4, that provides financial support for schools to bolster early childhood science, technology, engineering and math Pre-K programs, The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for STEM Education has established a unique professional development program for Texas public school teachers – Sharing BLOCKS: Big Ideas for Little Learners.

Sharing BLOCKS is a two-day workshop that uses research-based tools and hands-on activities to enhance active play, classroom learning and foster family engagement. The program is an outcome of National Science Foundation (NSF) research conducted by the UT Center for STEM Education’s Early Childhood (BLOCKS) project on what four year olds know and can do in science. The Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines provide the framework for instructional and assessment strategies designed for observing and assessing children’s learning. The program empowers teachers and adds to the current curriculum they are already doing now in their classrooms.

Sharing BLOCKS responds to HB 4 objectives with an effectively proven workshop offered several times throughout the year. The workshop will be conducted conveniently at district locations, and up to 50 teachers can participate at one time. The cost of the workshop includes:

  • Day 1 – Content of physical science topic properties of matter, force and motion, and measurement, some in the context of earth science topics
  • Day 2 – Content covering life sciences, including an introduction to gardening

Each teacher attending will receive a comprehensive set of materials designed to support yearlong STEM learning including balances, safety goggles, magnifiers, thermometers, instructional books, and more.

The workshop will be conducted by expert early-childhood instructors Mary Hobbs, PhD., and Robert Williams, Ph.D. (See bios below) who will intersperse engaging, hands-on activities with stories of their experiences and those of the BLOCKS teachers they worked with, too.

The Sharing BLOCKS program enhances STEM learning for young students who will be tomorrow’s science, mathematics, engineering and technology leaders by providing exemplary professional development for early childhood teachers now.


Workshop dates available Fall 2016

  • October – 13-14, 24-25, 27-28
  • November – 14-15, 17-18, 21-22

Administrators are encouraged to contact Mary Hobbs (maryhobbs@utexas.edu) now to reserve the two-day time slot that is most convenient for their district. Twelve (12) CPE credit hours are offered from The University of Texas at Austin’s Center for STEM Education for each participant who completes the training.



Robert Williams, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville. He is a longtime author of books of science activities for young children from one of the first such publications, Mudpies to Magnets (1987), to his most recent, Preschool Scientist (2010).  “Dr. Bob,” still works regularly in early childhood settings teaching children how to use the balance, build worm castles, and construct gardens, among other activities. He is a popular presenter at local, state, national and international conferences.

Mary Hobbs, Ph.D. (maryhobbs@utexas.edu) is Coordinator for Science Initiatives for the Texas Regional Collaboratives (TRC) at UT Austin Center for STEM Education, where she oversees a statewide network of 33 local partnerships providing professional development to science teachers. Mary has classroom experience at all grade levels PK-high school, and she has served as Science Specialist for a Regional Education Service Center and as Director of Science PK-12 for a large school district. She was Co-PI on the BLOCKS project and continues to disseminate the research results via workshops and conference presentations.