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Little Scientists Early STEM Award – 2018

The Little Scientists Early STEM Award 2018 celebrates Early Childhood Educators’ commitment and dedication to Early STEM education and inquiry-based learning.  The award is open to all Early Childhood Services throughout Australia.

This year, we had an overwhelming response with over 250 individuals downloading the entry form and many entries submitted. The winning entries can be found below.

Voting for the People’s Choice award is now closed. The winner is…

Australian Early STEM education is thriving and we are proud to be at the forefront – delivering quality professional development for early childhood professionals.

Winners 2018

National Winner: MONASH VALE EARLY LEARNING CENTRE | Water Harvesting

Project description

Monash Vale Early Learning Centre’s award-winning project started when the children noticed that the vegetable garden had gone dry during the summer break. Discussion led to the discovery that plants need water to grow and that the water source was a long way from the plants. The children investigated the water cycle, water harvesting and sustainability practices. Based on their observations and discoveries, the children designed, modeled and built their own working water tank. The project included inquiry-based, hands-on and practical work, documentation ownership and elements of design, engineering, science, maths, literacy and technology.

What we said about it

We loved that the project was sparked by observations and questions from the children.  After researching the water cycle, the children found a real-world problem – the water in the outdoor area was limited and a long way away from the vegetable beds. This lead to more investigations, and a design and modelling phase.  We can imagine the excitement when the project lead to the creation of a working tank built from recycled materials.

New South Wales: SPOTTED FROG KINDERGARTEN | Bubbles

Project description

Spotted Frog Kindergarten’s project began with the children’s interest in bubbles from spontaneous comments during a cake baking activity. The cake did not rise and the following observations lead to a wonderful investigation into bubbles, how they are formed and the science behind cake making and soda streams. The documentation linked to the EYLF and the entire project was research processed, continually evolving with child-lead ideas and questions along the way.

What we said about it

What a lovely idea for a project.  Building on a child’s questions about why a cake didn’t rise led into the project topic of bubbles.  We at the Little Scientists, love how you let the children choose the direction of the project. There were so many hands-on activities and they were relevant, accessible and meaningful.

Queensland: LITTLE SCHOLARS REDLAND BAY | Playground Project

Project description

Little Scholars’ project was sparked by a visit to the playground. After researching various forces ‘at play’ when using the equipment, the children constructed their own playground out of recycled materials based on the photographs they had taken. The project demonstrated inquiry-based learning that included collection of prior knowledge, research and information gathering. The project’s depth is obvious in the design, engineering, physics, 3D and 2D models and drawings, as well as technology in the form of a stop motion movie and photography.

What we said about it

Such a lovely, original idea. We loved the use of stop motion animation and photography with the children.

Victoria: SALTWATER CHILDCARE CENTRE | Metamorphosis Magic

Project description

Saltwater Childcare Centre’s Metamorphosis Magic – challenging preconceptions about insect life cycles – was a wonderful, practical way of investigating life cycles of meal worms and darkling beetles through observations and drawings. Building on their findings, the children collaboratively designed and constructed an insect hotel to accommodate the newly pupated beetles.

What we said about it

What a wonderful, practical way to investigate life cycles. Carrying out observations and incorporating them into their own drawings, the children were able to construct their own life cycles of Darkling beetles. Building on from their observations, a collaborative effort was made to design and construct an insect hotel to house the newly pupated beetles. A wonderful learning opportunity.

Australian Capital Territory: ARAWANG PRESCHOOL | Exploring Flight

Project description

Arawang Preschool’s project was based on the children’s interest in how planes fly and inspired by the annual hot air balloon festival, Canberra Balloon Spectacular, as well as one of the children’s dad’s work in the RAAF. The children investigated Bernoulli’s effect, thrust and propellers using leaf blowers, hair dryers and paper and bicarbonate rockets. Incorporating fabulous activities around the topic of flight, the project was inquiry-based, hands-on and relevant to the children’s experiences.

What we said about it

STEM takes flight in Canberra. Building on the children’s interest in the annual hot air balloon festival, Arawang Preschool carried out a project into flight.  Further information was provided by one of the parents who worked for the RAAF. We loved the different approaches to flight, the wider community involvement and the obvious enjoyment that both the children and the educators got from this project.

Western Australia: BEECHBORO CHRISTIAN SCHOOL | The Wonders of Water

Project description

Beechboro Christian School’s project ‘The wonders of water’ began with the question, ‘What is water?’. From there, the children went on a voyage of discovery investigating the aggregate states of water and bringing in the rainbows and sunlight. The project captured the children’s ideas and incorporated inquiry-based learning and STEM activities extending to the sports program and swimming, even looking into how to make your body float.

What we said about it

We loved the way the children’s ideas were captured. You brought into your project so many different elements and activities. It was great how you linked your STEM activities with your sports program (swimming) and incorporated discussions on how to make your body float, what a fabulous idea!

Northern Territory: ST MARY'S COMMUNITY OF LEARNERS PRESCHOOL | Water Wall

Project description

St Mary’s Community of Learners project was a very original project with depth in inquiry-based learning, hands-on experiences and child-led observations. The children’s interest in sand and water play and their love of marble runs led the exploration. The children investigated the water cycle, as well as absorption, sustainability and weight and used different materials for the construction of the water wall. Throughout the project, their contribution was valued and encouraged by the educators.

What we said about it

Starting with the children’s interest in sand and water play and their love of marble runs, Fiona introduced the idea of a water run. A wonderful opportunity to introduce the idea of the water cycle and how to capture and re-use water. The children investigated the different materials that could be used in the construction of the water wall. Their contribution was valued and encouraged by the educators.

South Australia: ST THOMAS SCHOOL AND PRESCHOOL | Monarch Butterfly Project

Project description

St Thomas School and Preschool’s project started when a child found a chrysalis on her grandparents’ farm and brought it to school. This sparked a fascinating project on monarch butterflies encompassing mathematics, literacy elements, time-lapse photography as well as life cycles and artistic elements. The project was inquiry-based, hands-on and very child-led. It featured a large amount of STEM content and wonderful links across the curriculum.

What we said about it

We at the Little Scientists, loved your use of time-lapse photography to capture the emergence of the Monarch Butterflies you were studying with the children. When you missed the emergence the first time it must have been such a let-down. What a great solution to the problem.

Tasmania: BAGDAD EDUCATION AND CARE | Rainbows, Light and Shadows

Project description

Bagdad Education and Care’s project was an exploration of rain that led to an inquiry-based investigation into rainbows, lights and shadows. This beautiful project incorporated the children’s interests and ideas and was sparked by a question about rain, flowing into other areas inspired by the children’s conversations. The project displayed hands-on activities and involved optics as well as different aspects of water: what sinks and floats, rain harvesting and the water cycle

What we said about it

Rain, rainbows, lights and shadows are all topics that can fascinate children and adults alike.  Bagdad Education and Care, produced a beautiful project incorporating the children’s interests and ideas. Starting with a question about the rain and flowing into other areas inspired by the children’s conversations and interests.

Sponsors

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for their generous donations.

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