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National Early STEM Education

 Awards 2024

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Little Scientists is thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of our 4th National Early STEM Education Awards: Australia’s only dedicated awards to recognise and celebrate STEM excellence in early childhood education.

The biennial awards call on (1) early learning services and (2) early childhood educators and early primary teachers to self-nominate for two possible awards:

  • Excellence in Early STEM Education Award
  • Outstanding Early STEM Education Leader Award

2024 Awards Theme

In choosing the theme for our 2024 awards, Little Scientists aims to shine a spotlight on an urgent issue: “Overcoming the gender bias in early STEM education”. This theme is in recognition of the critical role early childhood educators and early primary teachers play in overcoming gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases that impact young girl’s participation in STEM education.

Research shows that by the age of six, girls’ interest and confidence in STEM education is already negatively impacted by gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases. This early deterrence from STEM education has lifelong consequences, with women making up just 15% of the STEM workforce in Australia,

The 2024 National Early STEM Education Awards are an invitation for early childhood educators and early primary teachers to critically reflect upon the gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases surrounding STEM that permeate our services, classrooms, homes, and society and to showcase how this can be overcome through intentional, informed and inspirational early STEM teaching practices.

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We are here to help. Reach out to our team for any questions or to request a call — we’d love to support you on your journey!

How to nominate in each category

Early learning services

Award
Excellence in Early STEM Education Award

Winners
1 overall national winner, as well as 8 state and territory winners. 

What’s required?
To nominate, a service must run and document an inquiry-based STEM project with the children in their service that best showcases excellence in inquiry-based STEM implementation and approach. The subject of the project can be on anything, so long as it’s sparked by the interests of the children.

Educators must show they applied a critical gender lens to the project work to ensure they reflected on, identified, and worked to overcome any gender stereotypes or biases throughout the project.

Before you start your project:

  • Read this guide on running an inquiry-based STEM project.
  • Read through the questions you’ll need to complete to submit your project.

Submit here:
Submit your project via this form after your project has concluded and before 31 May 2024.

Individual early childhood educators or early primary teachers

Award
Outstanding Early STEM Education Leader Award

Winners
1 overall national winner, as well as 8 state and territory winners.

What’s required?
To nominate, early childhood educators and early primary teachers are invited to complete a survey that explores their leadership, as well as their commitment and approach to inquiry-based STEM education.

This includes questions about how educators and teachers critically reflect upon their teaching practices to identify and overcome gender bias in early STEM education.

Before you apply:

  • Read the sections about gender in early STEM at the bottom of the project support page.
  • Read through the questions in full, noting the reference from a colleague.

Submit here:
Submit your project via this form after your project has concluded and before 31 May 2024.

Learn more about the Awards

Why has Little Scientists chosen this theme?

The chances are that a child’s first experience of STEM education will be in an early learning setting. Outside of parents and carers, early childhood educators and teachers will be a child’s first and most influential STEM teacher.

Childrens’ first STEM learning experiences are critical in the development of positive dispositions towards STEM and their enthusiasm for engaging in STEM learning into the future. Studies show that children who engage in rich STEM learning experiences from infancy develop stronger STEM identities and foundational STEM skills — like critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity — as well as resilient thinking dispositions that improve their education outcomes generally, as well as in STEM specifically.

Unfortunately, though, children’s experience of early STEM education is not all equal. For young girls, STEM gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases significantly impact their inclusion in early STEM education.

By the age of six, young girls’ participation in STEM education is already negatively impacted and, in many cases, they have de-identified with STEM completely. This lack of STEM inclusion in early childhood has life-long consequences, with women currently making up only 15% of the STEM workforce in Australia.

What does gender stereotypes and implicit gender bias look like in early STEM education?

It’s important to recognise that we all hold implicit gender biases, which means they are biases we have internalised without even realising it. This means that, unless we proactively work to uncover and overcome our implicit gender biases, we risk perpetuating the very gender stereotypes that continue to hold girls back in areas like STEM.

Gender stereotypes and implicit gender bias are wide-ranging, but here are some examples:

Where can I find more information or support?

If you’re applying as a service:

  • Read this guide on running an inquiry-based STEM project.
  • Read through the questions you’ll need to complete to submit your project.

If you’re nominating as an educator or teacher:

  • Read the three sections about gender in early STEM at the bottom of the project support page.
  • Read through the questions in full, noting the reference from a colleague.

We are here to help! Email awards@littlescientists.org.au for any questions or to request a call — we’d love to support you on your journey!

Countdown to applications closed

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Thank you to our prize sponsors (update)

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