What is STEM from the Start?

STEM from the Start is a signature PFS Early Learning initiative to bring Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into the curriculum of our students ages birth to twelve years. STEM from the Start first began as a pilot program in 2017 to provide innovative STEM education to the eight Early Learning Centers PFS operates in San Mateo County. This pilot project was wholeheartedly embraced by PFS teachers, families, and students alike and has expanded significantly since then.

This visionary program was created in collaboration with our partners at the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Throughout our eight Early Learning Centers, over two-thirds of our teachers are specially trained in STEM-based instruction and we continue to recruit more.


Our STEM teachers are equipped with specialized training and they use an extensive online STEM training library with lesson plans, photos, and videos to support STEM lessons in their classrooms. Tablets are utilized for virtual field trips and online videos to pique the children’s interest in science, and to supplement STEM activities the children are doing in the classroom. PFS has STEM Program Coordinators who bring inspiring STEM-based lesson plans, projects, and activities to all PFS classrooms for students of all ages tailored to their age and developmental milestones. Our Early Learning Centers have dedicated STEM learning areas with multiple sensory tools and toys. STEM activity kits are provided for children to take home. We work closely with parents and family members so they can support their child in learning STEM and can also learn about STEM themselves.

Our Curriculum

Why STEM from the Start?

San Mateo County boasts great wealth, academics, arts and industry, and yet gaps keep growing when it comes to equity in education and the promise of a successful future. Still there are more than 21,000 children that live in poverty today in San Mateo County. Each year at our eight Early Learning Centers, PFS provides support for children ages birth to twelve years and their hard-working families through a safe environment, nutritious meals, targeted therapeutic interventions, and high-quality curriculum. At PFS, 100% of the children we serve are from families who live at low-income or poverty level.

Children of low-income families often have an even harder time obtaining the high-quality early learning they need. Our STEM from the Start program provides the learning children need to build a foundation for success in their lives. Our STEM educational techniques prepare children for kindergarten and beyond, increasing the likelihood of a child’s chances to graduate from high school, college, and be career ready.

Our Curriculum

Studies Show

STEM From the Start
Our Curriculum

Studies Show

Equity demands that we address this systemic issue and provide equal opportunities for all children to engage in STEM learning, starting from their earliest years. Recent studies have shown that the foundation for success and a lifetime of thriving is laid in the first five years of a child’s life, and access to high-quality early learning environments is essential for this foundation.

It has become clear that the opportunity gap, which disproportionately affects low-income and poverty-level families, has its roots in early childhood. Early STEM learning, particularly in math, has been found to be directly linked to success in school and in life.

It is imperative that we prioritize providing all children with access to high-quality early STEM learning, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status. By doing so, we can give every child the opportunity to reach their full potential and thrive.


What It Means

STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, encompasses not only academic subjects but also a problem-solving mindset that encourages exploration and questioning. Children naturally have a curiosity about the world, and by guiding their investigations, parents and teachers can help them develop a scientific way of thinking. Even infants and toddlers develop math skills through everyday interactions with trusted adults.

In Silicon Valley’s science and tech industry, we focus on introducing STEM concepts to young children through play, exploration, and multisensory experiences. STEM learning can happen anytime, anywhere, and the skills developed through STEM education can enhance problem-solving abilities and overall learning potential. Teachers and families play an essential role in fostering a love of STEM and creating a foundation for future success.

What It Means

More On STEM

Sample projects:

  • Exploring plant growth by planting seeds, watering them, and observing their growth over time.
  • Building simple machines, such as pulleys and levers, using household items like spoons, rubber bands, and cardboard.
  • Conducting simple chemistry experiments, such as mixing baking soda and vinegar to create a chemical reaction.
  • Designing and building simple structures, such as forts or towers, using blocks, cardboard, or other materials.

By engaging in these types of hands-on projects, young children are exposed to STEM concepts in a fun and engaging way. They learn problem-solving skills, develop critical thinking abilities, and build a foundation for future academic and career success. Moreover, STEM projects help children better understand the world around them and inspire a lifelong love of learning.