Centre’s little scientists win in national program

THE Bagdad Education and Care Tasmanian has won the 2018 Little Scientists Early STEM Award.

The award celebrates the commitment and dedication of early childhood educators to inquiry-based learning in early STEM education, providing opportunities for children to learn as they explore, discover, create, improvise, test theories and imagine.

The centre’s educators are from left Tammy Bennett, Tania Keates, Karina Jones (director), Ellie Hall, Tiana Williams and Rebekah Smith.
The centre’s educators are from left Tammy Bennett, Tania Keates, Karina Jones (director), Ellie Hall, Tiana Williams and Rebekah Smith.

“I’m delighted to present Bagdad Education and Care with the 2018 Little Scientists Early

STEM Award for its successful work in integrating STEM experiences in everyday learning,” said Sibylle Seidler, project director of Little Scientists Australia.

Bagdad Education and Care’s project was an exploration that led to an inquiry-based investigation into rainbows, lights and shadows. This beautiful project incorporated the children’s interests and ideas and was sparked by a question about rain, flowing into other areas inspired by the children’s conversations. The project displayed hands-on activities and involved optics as well as different aspects of water: what sinks and floats, rain harvesting and the water cycle.

Little Scientists’ workshops focus on the principles and practice outlined by the Early Years Learning Framework teaching early childhood educators to program, document and communicate authentic and holistic learning for the children in their care.

Little Scientists designed the Early STEM Award to recognise educators and teachers who implement inquiry-based research and discovery in their early childhood services and schools as the ongoing dedication and effort of educators, as demonstrated by Bagdad Education and Care is crucial to spreading STEM learning across the country.

The Centre’s manager Tammy Bennett said the project started with a heavy downpour of rain.

“The children watched intently and developed into thoughtful conversations about water and it’s preservation and how rainbows are formed. This, in turn, led to experiences where children could identify colours in bubbles and documented their ideas creatively.

“Subsequently we offered children intentional teaching opportunities with torches being shone through prisms, then being used in tents and cubbies in play-based experiences.

When the children observed their shadows on the inside of the tent they began making shadow puppet shows and created shadow portraits. This project incorporated sustained conversations about colour recognition, water play such as investigating objects that sink and float, creation of a water wall with recycled plumbing pipes, conservation, nature walks to chase and measure our shadows, imaginary play and more. We even ‘ate the rainbow’ as the children tried new vegetables in ‘rainbow’ colours.

Tammy said the Award presentation coincided with a refurbishment and re-branding of the service as a Nature Play Education and Care service.

“On the day we received our accreditation as a little scientist house which means we consistently incorporate early years STEM inquiry-based play experiences into our program for children and are re-assessed every two years under the scheme as well as the state award. We are naturally very proud of these successes,” Tammy said.