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STEM Leader – October 2020

Posted on September 30th, 2020 in STEM leaders
Tania Loro-Montin

My current role is… Reception Educator at St Thomas School and Preschool Goodwood.

I have worked in early childhood education for… over 11 years. I began by working in a childcare centre while completing my degree and then supporting children with special rights. After completing my degree, I began working in catholic education as a preschool teacher.

My professional interests are…

Of course I love researching and creating new STEM learning opportunities for my students. I also love being creative and bringing out each child’s inner artist through different art experiences that focus on the process and encourage individuality. Over the past 14 years I’ve been learning Australian Sign Language and enjoy incorporating it into my teaching through songs and stories.

This comes to my mind when I think of STEM…

Fun! STEM learning is fun and opens up a world full of possibilities. Young children are naturally curious about their world and love to ask lots of interesting questions and find out how things work. They love to explore, test out theories, and everything new they learn is amazing. STEM learning pushes beyond the boundaries of the classroom walls as children develop a global perspective by exploring their environment, school, home and community. When I think of STEM, I think of opportunites and the amazing potential of each child.

I am a fan of inquiry-based STEM learning because…

STEM encourages children to be researchers, to think critically, reflect, take risks, explore and question. It makes them see their world differently and to see how they can make a difference, contribute and create positive change in their world.

Inquiry-based learning builds skills for children in all areas of learning and day-to-day life. It allows students agency and ownership in their learning, to find answers to questions that interest them and to build stronger connections between prior and new knowledge. Inquiry-based learning fosters critical thinking, collaboration, reflection and a love of learning. It also provides opportunities for differentiated learning, catering to different learning styles and needs. I love inquiry-based learning as you can use it across different learning areas and it engages the children in meaningful learning.

My favourite Little Scientists workshop is…

The Human body workshop because children are always so curious about their bodies and how they work. In early childhood, young children observe how their bodies are changing and growing. They may have infant siblings who are learning to crawl/walk, they may have a loose tooth or are curious when a friend hurts themselves and how their body heals, and they are all curious about what happens to the food they eat. Our bodies are amazing and provide so much learning!

My favourite STEM exploration with children…

Exploring shadows with light. I love watching my students create shadows with a projector and sheet, with torches or outside with the sun. I see a real sense of wonder and curiosity in them and I love the ideas they want to explore. I also love how it incorporates so many other learning areas like literacy as they expand their vocabulary and create shadow stories, mathematics as they compare the sizes and shapes of their shadows and learning more about their bodies as they discover how to move to create different shadow shapes … and it’s lots of fun, too!

Life without STEM would be…

BORING! I can’t imagine life without STEM as I think about it constantly. It’s everywhere and in everything we do. Engaging in active and hands-on STEM experiences makes learning fun and encourages a love of learning and creates STEM stars of the future. Without STEM, life would be very boring for everyone.

In terms of STEM, I encourage my children…

To have a go and be curious. I encourage my students to be hands-on in their explorations and to be active agents in their learning by challenging their own ideas and theories.  I encourage my students to see themselves as researchers, scientists, computer coders, engineers and mathematicians and I emphasise that their ideas are worth exploring. I also encourage them to be reflective, to think about what worked and what didn’t, what they could do differently, to share their hypotheses and learning with others and to view themselves as teachers as well as learners.

My role in the children’s discovery and research is…

My most important role is to listen to my students, to listen to their ideas and what they are interested in. By listening and then acting as a co-inquirer, I collaborate with my students in their research and explorations by role modelling the inquiry cycle, scaffolding their learning, asking questions that encourage their curiosity and critical thinking and help to facilitate their explorations by providing interesting and appropriate resources. Observing and recording is also a big part of my role as well as regular reflection with my children. We talk about what we learned, I encourage them to share experiences and we decide where to go next on our learning journey.

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