Early STEM Award 2022 – NSW Winner
The Point Preschool
While digging in the sandpit and looking for dinosaur fossils, Ashton discovered something unknown and mysterious. The children’s curiosity was immediately sparked and they shared their theories as to what it could be. We had recently read the book “Sam and Dave Dig a Hole” and Bertie declared the unknown find “Our Spectacular Find”.
That afternoon at home, the children asked their families to share their own theories, as a way to co-construct meaning. This collaboration inspired more ideas, the documenting of observations, reading books, scouring the internet, and even emailing “Ask an Expert” from the Australian Museum.
As requested by this expert, we weighed and measured Our Spectacular Find and they confirmed that it was a coral skeleton from the Great Barrier Reef. The children were delighted with this news and wanted to investigate further!
As part of this, the children researched and acknowledged the Traditional Custodians of the reef, they estimated the coral reef length, and explored maps. They made observational drawings and clay sculptures, investigated the coral through a microscope, took photographs, and listened to the sounds of living coral.
The children also used loose parts to construct a model of the reef, which led to exploration of its vulnerabilities. The children researched its threats and then searched for solutions, which included planning and constructing models of their inventions to save the reef.
The project culminated with the children sharing their joy of discovery by engaging in song writing, movie making, and performing “The Spectacular Find Saving the Great Barrier Reef – The Musical”.
Discovering a coral skeleton from the Great Barrier Reef in our sand pit was an astonishing revelation. Working alongside the children, we gained extensive knowledge about coral and the Great Barrier Reef. We were utterly amazed by what we learned about our children – their unwavering passion for learning and their distinct learning styles. It became evident that our children are brimming with wonder, curiosity, and delight. Our project effectively highlighted them as both competent and enthusiastic learners.
Conversations with our families further deepened our surprise and delight. One parent confided that she had never imagined her 4-year-old daughter would possess more knowledge about coral and the reef than she did. Another parent gleefully recounted how her 4-year-old son would excitedly discuss coral skeletons during every dinner time. Yet another parent shared that her son’s happiness had soared and credited our Spectacular Find as a significant motivating factor. One parent expressed how she now comprehended the potency of inquiry-based learning.
Another layer of our surprise and delight stemmed from the fact that the project managed to engage all children, even those who occasionally faced challenges with collaboration. By following the children’s lead, we were amazed and thrilled to witness our project evolve into the creation of a movie and a musical performance.