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Little Scientists House

Project Support

Becoming a Little Scientists House allows you to showcase to parents and the community that your service is committed to inquiry-based STEM education. To become certified, your service must have developed and documented an inquiry-based STEM project with your children within the last 24 months that shows how you embed STEM into your practice.

Never run an inquiry-based STEM project before? No problem! This project support page will guide you through what’s involved. And when in doubt, reach out on house@littlescientists.org.au

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Why is undertaking an inquiry-based STEM project part of the Little Scientists House application?

Little Scientists House Project Support

Benefits for children:​

The value of undertaking an inquiry-based STEM project is so much more than a box-ticking exercise. In fact, we hope the project experience will prompt educators and services to run inquiry-based STEM projects with children throughout each year.

That’s because inquiry-based STEM projects build upon the interests of children and develop their critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, and independent thinking. 

They empower children and can also provide meaningful opportunities to involve parents and the broader community. But most of all, they spark joy!

Little Scientists House Project Support

Benefits for educators:

For educators, the experience of supporting and facilitating a child-led STEM project is an invaluable professional development experience that builds educator STEM skills and confidence.

The process of submitting a project as part of your Little Scientists House certification application is also a rare opportunity to receive feedback on your project work by an expert assessor.

Gaining insights into the strengths and development areas of your project will allow you to run projects with even more confidence into the future and embark on a journey to early childhood STEM leadership.

When should you start your
inquiry-based STEM project?

In most cases, you should run and document your inquiry-based STEM project after attending at least two STEM workshops with Little Scientists. This is because the knowledge and pedagogy you gain in these workshops will support you to run a high-quality project that is likely to be approved as part of your Little Scientists House application. 

For this reason, please ensure that the educators selected to attend Little Scientists workshops are the same educators who will lead your inquiry-based project work, so that they are able to incorporate the skills and knowledge they gain. But don’t let the knowledge stop there! Encourage these educators to mentor and coach the rest of your team in how to implement inquiry-based STEM learning environments in your service or classroom.

What is an
inquiry-based STEM project?

Inquiry-based STEM projects build upon the interests of children, which means they could stem from a question they ask, an observation they make, or be inspired by one of their specific interests. It’s critical for the children to experience a strong sense of agency throughout the project and to be at the heart of developing questions to explore, plan, implement, and document the project. On the other hand, educators are there to support, facilitate, and witness.

A project is always designed with a specific objective of finding something out, e.g. “Can wattle seeds grow in space?” rather than as an open-ended activity such as: “Let’s make a pond together”. It’s important that a project engages with a topic over an extended period of time (i.e. several weeks or months) so that different hypotheses, questions, and concepts can be explored and learning can be co-constructed via exploration, discovery, and reflection.

A project with an inquiry-based focus has a particular emphasis on process and learning (rather than quickly finding out the answer) and builds upon the prior knowledge of the children. The Inquiry Cycle below provides a useful project structure:

 

Inquiry Cycle

What should you consider before starting?

As a first step, we recommend taking a look at the application form so you understand what information you’ll be asked to provide. Click here for a view-only version of the application form, which you can print also. You can see the questions specific to the STEM project on page 3.

Questions to help you prepare:

  • Which educator(s) will facilitate the project? This will need to be the same person who’s attended the STEM PD.
  • Which children will participate?
  • How will you support children to take responsibility for the project?
  • How can a STEM project be effectively incorporated into your curriculum?
  • How will you document your project? (more info on the application form)

How will your STEM project will be assessed?

The Little Scientists House projects are assessed against the following judging criteria:

Originality

The most original projects lean into the creativity and imagination of children by exploring exciting questions and ideas that they bring to the table. For example, at Makybe Rise Primary School in WA, a child brought in an empty nest they had found. This inspired an in-depth STEM project to discover what kind of bird had made it. The children analysed the size of the nest, researched local birds, constructed model nests out of various materials, and tested the size of eggs they found in the local supermarket. What an exciting and original project idea!

STEM Content

Is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) content a central part of your project work and documentation? How well has your project developed children’s critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, communication, independent thinking, and initiative?

Project Scope

All projects need to have a clear goal and a plan, but that (in itself) doesn’t necessarily make a great project. A great project will set out to discover something ambitious or exciting, involve multiple steps or stages over an extended period of time, and will explore the topic from multiple perspectives.

Child-led Focus

The idea for your project should be sparked from the questions and interests of your children. From the beginning, it’s important that the children feel a strong sense of agency throughout the project and that they are at the heart of planning and implementing the project and its documentation. On the other hand, educators are there to support, coach, and co-construct learning with children.

Inquiry-based Focus

A project with an inquiry-based focus will be motivated and led by the children, emphasise process and learning (rather than quickly finding out the answer), build on the prior knowledge of the children, and follow an inquiry cycle (see image further up).

Little Scientists House Project Support

Application tips

 
  • Develop and finesse your application responses in a document prior to filling out the application. You can then copy and paste your responses into the application form when you feel they are fully developed.
 
  • Make your responses as descriptive as possible, as this will help the assessor gain a good understanding of your project and reduce the time it takes to have your application approved.

  • Don’t forget that two educators at your service must have attended at least two Little Scientists workshops each in the last 24 months. Read more about the eligibility requirements here.

  • For questions and support, email house@littlescientists.org.au
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