About Head Start on Engineering

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

  1. Fostering science and engineering interests for early learners in order to support healthy development and lifelong learning;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

  • 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 design 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.


We are grateful to the many families, educators, and collaborators that have contributed to this project. This work is made possible through the generous support of the National Science Foundation (Grant No. 1515628, 1906409, 1906433, 1930848), Oregon Community Foundation, Collins Foundation, Boeing Corporation, University of Notre Dame, and Juan Young Trust. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the funders.


I've really enjoyed being part of this program for another year. All the families have expressed gratitude for the program and have felt that they learned a lot from it. We all hope the program will continue to grow and offer support and amazing experiences for families in the future.”

– Head Start teacher