Project Summary

In this project the Little Gardeners from St Paul’s Early Learning immersed themselves into discovering the amazing world of plants and then their imagination and questions took them into a variety of different directions. It all started with the collection and germination of the little seed pots that an Australian supermarket distributed to its customers. The children were very excited to soak the soil pellet in water, they were amazed to see it growing, almost as if by magic! This investigative experience allowed children to explore the natural phenomena of plant growth. Many open-ended questions aroused during this investigative experience, which lead to the development of this ongoing STEM inquiry project. Over ten (10) months, the children at St Pauls explored:

  • Plant growth and parts
  • Edible vs non-edible plants
  • Healthy eating habits
  • Pollination and bees
  • Sustainability – composting, worm farms etc
  • Creation of a plant stall
  • Space food – sparked by the question if astronauts could take corn to space
  • Dramatic play around ‘space meal’.

Children’s interest in this STEM inquiry project sparked as our families started to bring Woolworth Discovery seed kits to the class. As children planted this miniature vegetables, the tactile experience of “squishing the mushy soil” encouraged them to wonder and ask these open-ended inquiry questions like

  • “Why and how does soil absorb water?”,
  • “What seeds needs to grow?”,
  • “Why do plants need roots”,
  • “Where does the food come from?” etc.

Children shared their thoughts and ideas about the natural environment, plants and healthy foods. One of the children commented on the fact that some seeds were really small after extracting seeds from a strawberry! Opportunities for research and experiments unfolded naturally from children’s thoughts, ideas and existing knowledge. Children’s continuum of inquiry-based learning supported them to expand children’s thinking beyond what plants needed to grow into space food, composting and the importance of fresh and healthy foods.

Working together in the garden with children is togetherness time. We build bonds with children and create lifelong experiences for their learning. Children are learning a lifelong love of growing things, and we are learning more about their individual personalities in turn: how they think, what they like and dislike and how capable they really are. Children are confident, capable and well connected with their experiences. It was great to see how deeply the children were involved in this project and the pride they took growing their own vegetables.

The learning also didn’t stop within the school but spilt into their home environments, e.g. one of the children brought home some tomatoes to make spaghetti and another family took rosella to make jam to share with everyone.

When children grow their own food, they learn about what sustains life on earth. Children were talking about healthy foods and the creation of an edible garden promoted our children’s responsibility towards their own health and developed their respect for the environment. We have noticed that many children were happy to try new vegetables that grown in our garden. What an achievement!!

We loved the open-endedness of this project and that it sustained the inquisitive nature of the children for such a long period of time (10 months and some aspects are still ongoing). We, in particular, enjoyed the inclusion of sustainability and the children’s awareness of their local climate (dry season/ wet season). The inclusion of aspects of food safety, food production and security was very encouraging and just one of the many amazing offshoots of the initial inquiry about growing some seed pots.

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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