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Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards 2024

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NOMination guide

Little Scientists is thrilled to announce the upcoming launch of our 4th Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards, Australia’s only dedicated awards to celebrate STEM excellence in early childhood education. Our biennial awards proudly recognise the early childhood educators and early primary teachers driving STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths — education for children aged 0-7 years across Australia.

Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards has two categories:

Category 1. Excellence in Early STEM Education Award recognises early learning services & early primary classrooms.

Category 2. Outstanding Early STEM Education Leader Award recognises early childhood educators & early primary teachers.

2024 AWARDS THEME:
Overcoming gender bias in early STEM education

Shining a spotlight on STEM gender bias 

In choosing the theme for the 2024 awards, Little Scientists aims to shine a spotlight on an urgent issue: Overcoming gender bias in early STEM education

This theme is in recognition of the critical role early childhood educators and early primary teachers play in overcoming gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases that impact young girl’s participation in STEM education.

Research shows that by the age of six, girls’ interest and confidence in STEM education is already negatively impacted by gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases. This early deterrence from STEM education has lifelong consequences, with women making up just 15% of the STEM workforce in Australia.

The 2024 National Early STEM Education Awards are an invitation for early childhood educators and early primary teachers to critically reflect upon the STEM gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases that permeate our services, classrooms, homes, and society and to showcase how this can be overcome through intentional, informed, and inspirational early STEM teaching practices.

What does implicit gender bias look like in early STEM education?

It’s important to recognise that we all hold implicit gender biases, which are biases we have internalised without even realising it. This means that, unless we proactively work to uncover and overcome our implicit gender biases, we risk perpetuating gender stereotypes that continue to hold girls back in areas like STEM. Gender stereotypes and implicit gender bias are wide-ranging, for example:

💥 Educators perceive boys as more confident than girls in all STEM subjects, according to the STEM Equity Monitor (Commonwealth Department of Industry, Science and Resources).

💥  The use of gendered images when describing STEM, e.g. showing images of mostly boys and men partaking in STEM activities and professions.

💥 The use of gendered language when describing STEM, e.g. by defaulting to “he/him” pronouns when referring to astronauts, doctors, or engineers.

💥 Educators and teachers may be prone to noticing (and praising) STEM learning opportunities in popular boy play, like construction, compared to popular girl activities, like home play.

💥 Educators and teachers may have a tendency to set up STEM learning experiences with materials or in spaces often dominated by boys, for example the block area.

💥 Parents are far more likely to engage in informal science and maths activities at home, like counting, with boys compared to girls.

Why did Little Scientists choose this theme?

A child’s first experience of STEM education will likely be in an early learning setting. Outside of parents and carers, an early childhood educator or teacher will be a child’s first and most influential STEM teacher.

Children’s first STEM learning experiences are critical in the development of positive dispositions towards STEM and their enthusiasm for engaging in STEM learning into the future. Studies show that children who engage in rich STEM learning experiences from infancy develop stronger STEM identities and foundational STEM skills — like critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity — as well as resilient thinking dispositions that improve their education outcomes generally, as well as in STEM specifically.

Unfortunately, though, children’s experience of early STEM education is not all equal. For young girls, gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases significantly impact their inclusion in early STEM education. By the age of six, young girls’ participation in STEM education is already negatively impacted and, in many cases, they have de-identified with STEM completely. This lack of STEM inclusion in early childhood has life-long consequences, with women currently making up only 15% of the STEM workforce in Australia.

Early childhood is the critical window to intervene if Australia is to increase girls’ engagement and inclusion in STEM education. This makes early childhood educators and early primary teachers the champions in the fight to overcome the gender stereotypes and implicit gender biases that are holding girls back when it comes to developing their STEM identities. The 2024 Awards are an opportunity for educators and teachers to be recognised for their work creating inclusive STEM education through intentional, informed and inspirational early STEM teaching practices.

Key dates

Awards-related STEM PD:

💭 Join our online STEM Hour on 14 March to learn from past winners about their inquiry-based STEM projects. 

💭 If you’re in Sydney, book into our Optics & Inquiry Projects Workshop on 4 March.

💭 Learn about gender bias in early STEM on 2 May from Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador.

For any questions or to request a call, please email: awards@littlescientists.org.au

HOW TO NOMINATE

CATEGORY 1.
Excellence in Early
STEM Education Award

Who can nominate?

Early learning services or early primary classrooms

Winners

1 overall national winner 
8 state and territory winners 

What’s required?

To nominate, a service must develop and document an inquiry-based STEM project with the children in their service that showcases excellence in inquiry-based STEM implementation and approach. The subject of the project can be anything, so long as the idea is sparked by the interests of the children.

Educators must show they applied a critical gender lens to the project work to ensure they reflected on, identified, and worked to overcome any gender stereotypes or biases throughout the project.

Submit your nomination online:

Submit your nomination via the online nomination form that opens 1 March and closes 31 May 2024. You can view the nomination questions here so that you can start planning and developing your project with the children in your service or classroom.

CATEGORY 2.
Outstanding Early STEM
Education Leader Award

Who can nominate?

Early childhood educators or early primary teachers

Winners

1 overall national winner
8 state and territory winners

What’s required?

To nominate, early childhood educators and early primary teachers are invited to complete a nomination form that explores their leadership, as well as their commitment and approach to inquiry-based STEM education.

This includes questions about how educators and teachers critically reflect upon their teaching practices to identify and overcome gender bias in early STEM education.

 Before you submit:

  1. Read more about our theme “Overcoming in gender bias in early STEM education” on the Awards Project Support page.
  2. Read through the view-only nomination questions.

Submit your nomination online:

Submit your nomination via the online nomination form that opens 1 March and closes 31 May 2024. You can view the nomination questions here so that you can start developing your responses. 

WHAT YOU COULD WIN

Check out these incredible prizes!

We are grateful for our sponsors LoveHeart, Educational Technology Specialists, and Semann & Slattery for providing the prizes for the Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards.

Service category: Excellence in Early STEM Award

National winner prizes

LoveHeart 1-year subscription on the Team Plan (worth $1,788)

LoveHeart’s Team Plan is for teams who want to transform their educational practice. It includes access to all the platform features (AI-generated Learning Stories Letters, Journals, Plans and Reflections, Summative assessments, Translations, 24/7 Coaching, etc.), unlimited AI requests, unlimited team members and our premium support.

🐝 EdTechs Bee-Bot Rechargeable Swarm & Australian Map (worth $1,108)
🧑🏽‍🎓 Little Scientists 2 in-person OR 4 online workshop tickets (worth up to $430)

State & territory winner prizes

 💗 LoveHeart 6-months subscription on the Team Plan (worth $894)

LoveHeart’s Team Plan is for teams who want to transform their educational practice. It includes access to all the platform features (AI-generated Learning Stories Letters, Journals, Plans and Reflections, Summative assessments, Translations, 24/7 Coaching, etc.), unlimited AI requests, unlimited team members and our premium support.
 

🐝 EdTechs Single Rechargeable Bee-Bot & Australian Map (worth $238)
🧑🏽‍🎓 Little Scientists 1 in-person OR 2 online workshop tickets (worth up to $215)

Educator category: Outstanding Early STEM Education Leader Award

National winner prizes

💗 LoveHeart 1-year subscription on the Transform Plan (worth $948)

The Transform Plan is LoveHeart’s most powerful individual plan. It includes access to all the platform features (AI-generated Learning Stories Letters, Journals, Plans and Reflections, Summative assessments, Translations, 24/7 Coaching, etc.), up to 200 AI requests, and premium support. It is the most powerful way to transform your practice.

🐝 EdTechs Bee-Bot Rechargeable Swarm & Alphabet Mat (worth $1,108)
🧑🏽‍🎓 Little Scientists 1 in-person AND 2 online workshop ticket (worth up to $395)

State & territory winner prize

💗 LoveHeart 6-months subscription on the Transform Plan (worth $474)

The Transform Plan is LoveHeart’s most powerful individual plan. It includes access to all the platform features (AI-generated Learning Stories Letters, Journals, Plans and Reflections, Summative assessments, Translations, 24/7 Coaching, etc.), up to 200 AI requests, and premium support. It is the most powerful way to transform your practice.

🐝 EdTechs Single Rechargeable Bee-Bot & Australian Map (worth $238)
🧑🏽‍🎓 Little Scientists 1 in-person OR 2 online workshop tickets (worth up to $215)

Everyone’s a winner!

To recognise the efforts of all services, classrooms, educators, and teachers who nominate, LoveHeart and Little Scientists will provide the following Nomination Gifts to all eligible nominees:

Service & classroom nominees:
💗 LoveHeart $199 gift card
🧑🏽‍🎓 Little Scientists $30 coupon to put towards any in-person or online workshop in 2024.

Educator & teacher nominees:
💗 LoveHeart $39 gift card
🧑🏽‍🎓 Little Scientists $30 coupon to put towards any in-person or online workshop.

We are grateful for our sponsors LoveHeart, Educational Technology Specialists, and Semann & Slattery for providing the prizes for the National Early STEM Education Awards. Learn more about these education specialists below:

LoveHeart AI | Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards 2024 Sponsor

LoveHeart is an AI educator-aide that assists Educators in understanding a child’s development. It utilises your observations to create learning stories, daily journals, learning plans, and reflections in a matter of seconds, helping to enhance the child’s learning experience.

EdTechs | Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards 2024 Sponsor

Educational Technology Specialists help Australian schools inspire and engage students by the very best educational technologies and services available, from science, robotics and mathematics equipment, to literacy resources and charging and storage solutions, as well as, educational games and puzzles, and construction, engineering and makerspace tools.

Semann & Slattery | Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards 2024 Sponsor

Semann & Slattery is a boutique consultancy with over 25 years working in the early and primary education and community sector. They are researchers, facilitators of professional learning, and thought leaders.

  1. Entries must be submitted by 11:59pm Friday 31 May 2024 AEST.
  2. Only one submission will be accepted from a service or classroom in the Excellence in Early STEM Education Award category and only one submission will be accepted per educator or teacher in the Outstanding Early STEM Education Leader Award category.
  3. Entries will only be reviewed if the application is complete and submitted in the requested format.
  4. Submissions are open to all early childhood services, foundation primary classrooms, early childhood educators, and early primary teachers in Australia.
  5. Little Scientists reserves the right not to award a prize if the quality of entries in a category does not meet the judges’ quality standard.
  6. Winners will be notified via email or phone and may be announced on the Little Scientists website and/or social media platforms.
  7. All submissions become the property of Little Scientists Australia. As such, Little Scientists is the owner of all copyright and other intellectual property in all submitted and winning entries.
  8. Information submitted as part of nomination submissions may be used by Little Scientists for promotional purposes, including on websites, social media, printed material, advertisements, and press releases.
  9. Prizes are not redeemable for cash, credit, or product.
  10. To withdraw an application, written notification is required via email to awards@littlescientists.org.au at any time with immediate effect.
  11. If for any reason Little Scientists is unable to run the awards as planned, Little Scientists will use its discretion to cancel or postpone the event.
  12. Only submissions that are complete and of an acceptable quality, as deemed by the Little Scientists staff team, will be eligible to receive a Nomination Gift.

How should I get started?

We are here to help! Email awards@littlescientists.org.au for any questions or to request a call — we’d love to support you on your journey!

If you’re nominating as a
service or classroom:

 STEP 1. Read the project guidance here before starting your STEM project.

STEP 2. Read through the nominee questions on this view-only and printable version.

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED:

 🔔 Join our online STEM Hour on 14 March to learn from past winners about their inquiry-based STEM projects.

🔔 If you’re in Sydney, book into our Optics & Inquiry Projects Workshop on 4 March.

🔔 Learn about gender bias in early STEM on 2 May from Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador

If you’re nominating as an
educator or teacher:

STEP 1. Read about our theme about gender bias on the Awards Project Support page.

STEP 2. Read through the nominee questions in full on this view-only and printable form. 

 

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED:

 🔔 Book into an in-person STEM workshop or online STEM workshop to boost your STEM skills and knowledge.

🔔 Learn about gender bias in early STEM on 2 May from Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador

 

If you’re nominating as a
service or classroom:

STEP 1. Read the project guidance here before starting your STEM project. STEP 2. Read through the nominee submission questions on this view-only and printable version.

If you’re nominating as an
educator or teacher:

STEP 1. Read about our theme “Overcoming gender bias in early STEM education” above.

STEP 2. Read through the nominee submission form in full. Click here for a view-only and printable form.

Nominations open in...

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Thank you to our major prize sponsors!

LoveHeart AI | Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards 2024 Sponsor
EdTechs | Little Scientists Early STEM Education Awards 2024 Sponsor
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