STEM leader – November 2021

Jodie McPhie, QLD

With over seven years’ experience in early childhood education, Jodie McPhie is currently working in the senior kindy room at the Prince Charles Hospital Early Education Centre in Brisbane with children aged between three and four years. Witnessing how STEM learning builds on the natural curiosity of young children’s minds has strengthened Jodie’s love for STEM over the years. Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, Jodie has a passion for combining art and science as, in her experience, this combination allows children to use visual creations to present their discoveries.

Jodie’s professional interest is in extending children’s discoveries and exploration through a play approach. It is important for her to understand the way children learn to ensure they feel a sense of belonging to the environment. She is passionate about art and craft, STEM and open environments where children are able to explore freely, creating and embedding sustainable practices with the children, exploring children’s cultural backgrounds and incorporating their native language and celebrations into the classroom. Jodie aims to provide a creative, bright and inviting environment.

Jodie is a fan of inquiry-based STEM learning because it:

  • focuses on children’s questions and observations
  • allows children to explore their thinking through hands-on experiences
  • gets children actively involved in STEM activities
  • allows children to wonder, collaborate, question, make and investigate
  • fosters children’s investigations and problem-solving abilities
  • includes children in a social constructivist environment
  • gives room for children’s voices to be heard, explored and documented
  • encourages children to think critically.

One of Jodie’s favourite STEM experiences is exploring chemical reactions with the children because the experiments and projects are hands-on, allowing children to observe the reactions instantly. As an educator of young children, she enjoys seeing their expressions when they observe a chemical reaction. She supports the children in comparing reactions and forming theories from which new projects and experiments develop. Jodie encourages the children to experiment freely with reactions to open their minds and thinking, experiencing that there is no limit when investigating chemical reactions.

Jodie encourages the children in her care to form hypotheses and put their thoughts and ideas into action. She fosters risk-taking in children’s learning and challenges their theories. She extends children’s knowledge by asking questions that lead to meaningful open conversations that further and support children’s understanding. She encourages children to observe what is happening during a project or an experiment and helps them document their learning. Furthermore, she scaffolds their ideas, and assists in their development of science inquiry. During STEM explorations, Jodie ensures that children are in groups to create a social constructivist approach where children can extend on each other’s knowledge and build conversation enhancing their learning. At the end of each experiment and project, the group discusses the results and findings.
Jodie sees her role in the children’s discovery and research in:

  • supporting children’s ideas and discoveries
  • encouraging children to think critically
  • enhancing children’s motivation and interest
  • building upon children’s curiosity and wonder
  • providing materials, space, and an opportunity to explore and express their interests in STEM.

According to Jodie, early education without STEM would be boring. She couldn’t imagine not embedding STEM into her program. Children are exposed to STEM opportunities in the environment every day and Jodie can’t imagine not sharing her passion for these moments with their young minds.

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