Which child isn’t interested in the concept of flight? And the children at the Good Shepherd Lutheran School (Curiosity Early Learning) were no different when they explored how to build their own paper airplanes, creating kites and trialling ways to make things move.
Educators recognised this interest and started the inquiry with the simple (or not!) question ‘What do you know about air?’. Finding out about the children’s prior knowledge led to a range of hypotheses, questions and wonderings. As they reflected more deeply as educators, they discovered that our deep question was ‘how do we get things to fly?’. This led to a range of experiences where the children tested out their theories either through exploratory play or explicit teaching. This project is still ongoing as the children continuously come back to the topic and keep creating and testing their futuristic flying inventions.
Briefly explain how the project was sparked. How did you and the children get started with the project?
This project focusing on air was discovered as children were observed in a spontaneous play and learning experiences throwing paper aeroplanes and creating kites. Children were observed communicating, collaborating and challenging themselves alongside their peers. For example, seeing who could throw the plane the furthest, measuring the distance the kite travelled using informal units, explaining how high the plane/kite would travel and testing the direction of the wind. During these moments of exploration, the children were full of laughter, enthusiasm. As educators, we decided to nurture this interest by planning learning possibilities to do with flight and air. Together with the children, we brainstormed what we already knew about air which generated so many wonderful opportunities for discussion about many concepts. Some hypotheses included that:
- air helps us breathe,
- air helps to pump your car tyre when it’s flat,
- kites needed someone to run with it so they could fly,
- air has all types of gases and
- air can be found in the sky.
What surprised you about the project?
The children’s involvement, excitement and input in the project was surprising as all children have different inquiries and questions which led to many possible learning threads. Children challenging themselves during exploratory play. Forming hypothesising, testing them out and picking up scientific language during the explorations (gravity, lift).
What the judges said
The jury enjoyed how engaged children were and how they were not satisfied with just one exploration and answer but instead persisted in continually re-thinking their project and testing new theories of air and its various forms and uses. This resilience and persistence will allow them to thrive in their future careers!