With five years’ experience and a Diploma in Early Childhood Education, Linda Lind is currently working as an educator at Sweetpeas Kindergarten and Long Day Care Centre in Cranebrook, NSW. She has participated in Little Scientists workshops as well as professional development courses in challenging behaviour and sleep, rest and relaxation.
Linda’s professional interests are in gardening, arts and crafts and sustainability, as well as STEM exploration and projects that build on children’s interests of STEM. She believes that STEM is important in early childhood education as it builds a solid foundation in children’s learning. Linda believes that the children have fun during STEM activities because they are hands-on and interactive. STEM experiences give children confidence to participate and work as a team, as well as encouraging experimentation, critical thinking and problem-solving.
Linda is a fan of inquiry-based STEM learning because she loves the enjoyment of the children as they learn, grow confident through participation and develop their critical thinking skills. “STEM learning is endless and extends on children’s interests,” she says. “The children are always making new discoveries, asking questions and are eager to find out how things work or are created.”
Linda enjoyed participating in the Little Scientists’ virtual morning tea incursion as part of National Science Week 2021 as it reminded her that almost every daily activity has a connection to STEM. She has often had similar experiences spotting STEM in the everyday when in the garden caring for the plants with the children. She says that the children get very excited when they see the plants and vegetables growing and explore all the little insects that visit the garden. This often leads them to investigate these bugs further.
Following the children’s questions and curiosity is at the heart of inquiry-based STEM learning, and one of Linda’s most inspiring STEM experiences with the children was extracting DNA from strawberries after a child had asked a question about DNA in a group discussion. When engaging in STEM learning, Linda encourages the children to think critically, explore ideas, hypothesise, solve problems, be creative, build with an assortment of materials and use technology to research and explore. She believes it is important to allow children to explore with their own resources. Linda sees her role during the children’s discovery and research as giving them facts, setting up experiments, extending on their ideas to further investigate their interests and to make learning fun.
Linda believes that in the future, children will be fluent in independent research and investigation through technology. She believes it would be handy to have technology for early childhood education similar to Google or Alexa, where children can ask questions and get their answers on the spot. Linda sees the future of early STEM education as more technology based.