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Parks and Parts

Early STEM Award 2022 – TAS Winner

Bagdad Education and Care

This project took its inspiration from our local council’s plan to upgrade the public playground next to our service. The council invited children to share their thoughts on what they wanted to see in a playground, and we assisted the children in obtaining submission forms. As part of their submission process, the children drew pictures of their playground ideas and then verbally explained their drawings to educators. Educators transcribed their ideas onto each child’s submission form. 

Some children suggested improvements such as better swings, water sprayers, bike tracks, boats, and water slides. Educators posed questions about the details of these ideas and provided craft materials as provocations. They made loose parts and materials available to the children during discussions about their ideas, which encouraged some children to start constructing 3D models to illustrate their concepts even further. 

The children revisited and expanded on their ideas over the course of several months. During these experiences, children selected small loose parts and craft materials, like pipe-cleaners, blu-tac, playdough, tape, and straws. They used these materials to create small models of playground equipment, such as swing sets and monkey bars. 

However, it became evident that there weren’t enough materials for the children to create larger 3D models, and some children seemed frustrated. To address this, we took the children to visit the local Recovery (Tip) Shop to purchase the materials they felt they needed for their creations. They bought items like piping (agricultural, plumbing, aquarium), ropes, palings, cable wheels, crates, plastic parts, and baskets. With these materials, they were able to construct full-scale swings, water slides, and water sprayers made from balloons and piping. 

Many of the children’s hypotheses were expressed as they arrived at each stage, such as ‘how can we get the water out of the pipe?’. One child shared the assumption that a larger pipe would lead to a larger water flow, but later observed that the larger pipe in fact led to a slower flow, which we documented on video. With our yard filled with various recycled objects, possibilities seemed endless, leading children of all ages to reimagine and repurpose them into usable structures. 

This project proved popular across all age groups including children from OSHC. A seven-year-old sibling of a younger child observed attempts at creating a ‘desktop’ pipe cleaner swing set model and then proceeded to create a full-scale swing from the loose parts he found, including rope and a plumbing pipe for a seat. He was then able to use it as a swing for himself!

🏆 Will you be the next winner of the Early STEM Education Awards?

We’re thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of our 4th Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards: Australia’s only dedicated awards to recognise the early childhood educators and early primary teachers driving excellence in early STEM education. Our 2024 awards theme is “Overcoming gender bias in early STEM education”, which means Little Scientists is calling on educators and teachers to demonstrate how you’re moving the needle on gender stereotypes and implicit biases that are holding young girls back in STEM education.

You can nominate yourself and/or your service in two categories for the 2024 Awards:

Category 1. Excellence in Early STEM Education Award invites early learning services and early primary classrooms to develop an inquiry-based STEM project. 

Category 2. Outstanding Early STEM Education Leader Award invites early childhood educators & early primary teachers to nominate via a questionnaire. 

Nominations are open 1 March-31 May 2024. Click here to learn more about our 2024 Awards and start planning your nomination now.

Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards 2024
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