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Project Summary

While digging in the sandpit, looking for dinosaur fossils, one child discovered something unknown. Immediately, the children were curious and shared their theories as to what it could be. After reading “Sam and Dave Dig a Hole”, one of the children declared the unknown find as “Our Spectacular Find” – the idea for this wonderful project was born!

The children and educators were unsure as to what exactly they had unearthed in their sandpit so they reached out to the Australian Museum’s free service of “Ask an Expert”. The scientists asked them to weigh, measure and document their Spectacular Find and it was confirmed it was a coral skeleton from the Great Barrier Reef. The children’s delight inspired more investigations and took this project into a variety of different directions. The children:

  • researched and acknowledged the Traditional Custodians of the reef;
  • estimated the reef’s length and explored maps;
  • made observational drawings and clay sculptures;
  • investigated the coral through a microscope;
  • photographed the coral;
  • listened to sounds of living coral;
  • designed the reef with loose parts;
  • researched threats to the reef;
  • searched for solutions, planned and constructed models of inventions to save the reef;
  • engaged in song writing, movie making and performing “The Spectacular Find Saving the Great Barrier Reef – The Musical” to share joy of their discovery.

Our project was sparked when Our Spectacular Find was discovered. This was the provocation that sparked our investigation. We view our children as competent, capable, diverse and confident learners, and so they led our learning journey. Our children’s right to have their voices heard is embedded in our philosophy and practice. They wanted to dig deeper and find more answers, problem solve and invent solutions. We facilitated their deep curiosity and passion to share their perspectives, theories, knowledge and inventions. This also supported their autonomy and strengthened us as a community of learners. Our journey was shaped by the children’s perspectives and individuality – the knowledge seekers, the creatives, the debaters, the questioners, the sceptics, the joyous and the collaborators. Educators and children were scribes in our Wonderings book so we could revisit theories and incidental findings so no question could be missed.

Many aspects of our project surprised us. Finding a coral skeleton from the Great Barrier Reef in our sand pit was an amazing surprise. Alongside the children, we learnt so much about coral and the Great Barrier Reef. We were so in awe of what we learned about our children, their passion for learning and their learning styles. We know our children are filled with wonder, awe, curiosity and delight. Our project showcased them as competent and enthusiastic learners. We were surprised and delighted in conversations with our families. One parent told us, she had not imagined her 4-year-old daughter would know more about coral and the reef than she did. Another parent delighted in hearing about coral skeletons at every dinner time from her 4-year-old son. Another parent told us that her son was so happy, and our Spectacular Find had been such a motivation. Another parent said she now understood the power of inquiry-based learning. We were surprised and delighted that the project engaged all children including those who at times have challenges collaborating. We followed the children’s lead and were surprised and excited our project led to the making of a movie and a musical.

Commencing with the discovery of an intriguing object in the preschool sandpit, ‘The Spectacular Find’ became an experience that ended up involving the children, educators, parents, community and experts.
Documentation clearly indicates the way the children’s ideas, insights and interests shaped the progress of the project. Vibrant, comprehensive documentation captured the energy and engagement of children and educators in the project.
The project, including the way it was documented and recorded for the award entry, was very interesting.

We thank the sponsors of the 2022 Early STEM Award.

Technology sponsor

We thank Air Exchange for enabling us to use the online award submission platform Award Force.

Prize sponsors

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