Project Summary

The local council was planning to upgrade the public playground next to Bagdad Education and Care and invited the children for their thoughts on what they wanted. This community consultation sparked the children’s imaginations and initial suggestions ranged from better swings, water sprayers, bike tracks, boats and water slides. When educators made loose parts available to the children whilst discussing their ideas, some children began constructing their ideas as 3D models so that they could show the ‘grown up’s what they wanted. The children encountered many obstacles, such as;

  • straws not standing upright
  • how to connect the pipe cleaners and straws,
  • what would the right sized pipe be for the best spray of water,
  • how high should the slide be for the optimum speed,
  • how can we stop the slide from moving and
  • how can we recycle the water?’

Therefore, our little engineers were required to think critically, be creative, problem solve, use trial and error and be resourceful about the materials they used as well as understand the properties of the materials in order to construct their play structures.

During group time, children were informed about the Council’s plans to possibly upgrade the local playground. Educators explained that as the children were the key stakeholders they could participate as active citizens and contribute their ideas if they wanted. They all requested a submission form and drew their ideas which they discussed with educators who wrote the child words on the form. Educators had posed questions about what some of these ideas might look like ad presented children with craft materials as provocations. As the projects progressed and involved water, the creations needed to made from other materials than paper based craft and our supplies of loose parts materials were inadequate and so we planned some shopping trips to the Tip Shop and requested donations. Once we had a large supply of loose parts, the possibilities were endless.

Apart from the children’s amazing resourcefulness re-purposing the loose parts into connected and legitimate structures the most interesting thing was seeing how different age groups attending the service used the materials differently. For instance, the toddlers made attempts at putting the pipe cleaners and straws together, but the pre-kinder children managed to get them to the point that they could be connected and stand up. However, when the OSHC children came to care, they extended this again with one girl taking the ‘swings’ from monkey bars (with no swing seat) to making a swing seat from paper and a ‘human’ from pipe cleaners to complete the project. Additionally, a 7 year old sibling of some younger children saw their attempts at creating their ‘desktop’ pipe cleaner swing set models and then proceeded to create a full scale swing from the loose parts he found, using rope and a plumbing pipe for a seat. He was actually able to use it as a swing for himself! So this extension on each age group’s ideas was surprising to see how resourceful children can be as they develop their thinking and physical dexterity the older they get.

The jury especially enjoyed the level of agency children had in this project, which included an excursion to make choices about materials. Allowing the children to be a significant part of the community consultation process showed them that their ideas are valued and will give them a sense of ownership when the playground is being built.

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

Scroll to Top