Organization: Iowa Regents’ Center for Early Developmental Education (RCEDE), University of Northern Iowa (UNI)
Beth Van Meeteren is Director of the Iowa Regents’ Center for Early Developmental Education (RCEDE) at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) in Cedar Falls, IA. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Social Sciences, a Master’s in Literacy Education, and a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis on Early Childhood STEM. Her dissertation identified emergent engineering behaviors in six and seven-year-olds as they worked to design and build ramp and pathway systems to move marbles in interesting ways. Van Meeteren taught six and seven-year-olds in first grade for 24 years in rural and urban public schools. Growing up on an Iowa farm working with animals, machinery, and field work, she experienced connective concepts within integrative learning which she brought into her own teaching practices as a first grade teacher. She now teaches undergraduate and graduate students in literacy education and elementary science methods and doctoral students in Curriculum and Instruction at UNI in addition to her role as Director of the Iowa RCEDE. Van Meeteren developed and piloted Ramps & Pathways experiences in her own first grade classroom under the guidance of Dr. Rheta DeVries, a seminal researcher in early childhood. Van Meeteren’s work was used extensively in a National Science Foundation grant that examined the impact of Ramps & Pathways on young children’s conceptual development of force and motion. She went on to design professional learning for teachers in early STEM experiences through a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) grant. As Director of the Iowa RCEDE, she oversees the implementation of professional learning in Ramps & Pathways across the state of Iowa and teaches integrative STEM and literacy courses to practicing teachers with the goal of translating research to practice. She serves as a consultant on early engineering for a National Science Foundation grant obtained by Tufts University in Massachusetts, LEGO First Junior, and is a charter member and facilitator of the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Early Childhood Science Interest Forum. She contributed to the development of the NSTA Early Childhood Science Education Position Statement and the NSTA Elementary Science Position Statement. She has a chapter, The Importance of Developing Engineering Habits of Mind in Early Engineering Education, in Moore and English’s Springer publication entitled Early Engineering Learning. She is contributing to a chapter in the upcoming Handbook of STEM Education Research.