The ScienceStart! Early Childhood Curriculum began its development when Professor Lucia French at University of Rochester, Rochester NY obtained funding from Eastman Kodak's 21st Century Learning Challenge to develop a state-of-the-art preschool that would serve children living in poverty.
In 1995, the Third Church Head Start Demonstration Program opened as a delegate Head Start agency serving 36 children in two classrooms. When the Demonstration Program closed in 2001 the ScienceStart! Early Childhood Curriculum had been developed, implemented, and revised in an ongoing process that drew on teachers’ expertise, children’s engagement, theories of child development and early childhood education, and national standards. Ongoing research showed that children’s conceptual and language skills improved substantially as a result of participation in ScienceStart! classrooms.
In 2000, the National Science Foundation awarded University of Rochester a 3-year grant to document the curriculum, to implement it in other settings with new teachers and to continue to assess its effectiveness in terms of children’s language and cognitive development. (Grant #ESI9911630; $500,000.)
Between 2000-2002 the A. L. Mailman Family Foundation and Rochester's Child provided funding to develop and test science-based curriculum materials for Family Day Care Providers and the parents they served.
The U.S. Department of Education has provided funding to support development and implementation of this curriculum through two different programs.
- The Early Childhood Educators Professional Development Program provided funding to investigate the role of ScienceStart! in supporting teacher improvement and the outcomes for their students. (Grant # S349A01071; $1,031,000; 2001 - 2004.)
- The Early Reading First Program provided funding to create preschool centers of excellence in four urban preschools. (Grant # S359B040093; $3,816,000; 2004 - 2008.)