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Cate Halbert

Cate Halbert smiling
STEM Leader since September 1, 2020.

Cate Halbert, Adelaide SA

My current role is 'Preschool Lead Educator'. When I think of STEM I think of exploration, play, solving problems and asking questions through a STEM lens.

My professional interests are… 

Providing learning experiences that reflect our philosophy and the EYLF outcomes  for preschool children that are authentic, play-based and meaningful. In 2019, we introduced the ELLA program (Early LearningLanguage Australia), learning Italian via play-based apps. As a result of our involvement, I was invited to be an ELLA Champion as a means of sharing and promoting the program with educators across Australia..

I am a fan of inquiry-based STEM learning because…

STEM encourages children to explore the delights of the natural world around them. STEM is so much fun!

Inquiry-based STEM practices enable educators to observe the children’s interests and allow children to be co-constructors of their learning as they explore, experiment and make sense of their world.

My favourite Little Scientists workshop is…

The Human body (so far!) because it coincided beautifully with the hospital socio-dramatic play that our cohort of children at the time were very involved in. We posed the question, “What is under your skin?” and the investigations began. Ideas from the workshop such as model making were incorporated into our project and the children ran with it. X-ray machines, pasta or ribbons glued onto felt hands to represent bones and veins and visual representations of the body with internal organs were examples of their learning.

My favourite STEM exploration with children… 

I don’t know which one to choose as I have experienced so many over the years. A few examples of great explorations are:

  • Minibeast explorations about bees and caterpillars/butterflies. They are a constant source of excitement, observation and learning in our garden and outside learning environment.
  • Engineering challenges such as building ramps and slides.

Early education without STEM would be…

There is no life without STEM! We utilise STEM concepts, apply STEM skills to real life situations, problem solve and utilise logical thinking every day. In other words, STEM exploration plays an important role for children to make sense of the world.

In terms of STEM, I encourage my children… 

To ask questions, have a go, work together, share their learning. I regularly ask my children questions such as, ”Can you tell me about it?” and “Do you think you can draw or make this?” to help them consolidate their learning. I also encourage the children to persist and try again if it does not work the first time.

My role in the children’s discovery and research is to…

To observe their interests, listen, document and share their ideas and theories. I provide them with materials and resources that will assist, extend and spark interest.

I also see learning along with the children as part of my role. We don’t have to be STEM experts, what matters is that we share the children’s excitement, have a go and explore together.

Allowing time to revisit and experiment is also important for children’s learning. A simple example from my work with children are soap bubbles. Blowing bubbles is quite a challenge for some children and if it was offered as a one-off activity and then packed away, many children would be left frustrated. If allowed to persist through trial and error, a simple challenge can be mastered with great results and then deeper learning begins.

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