STEM Discovery Day
We had a STEM Discovery Day this week so we could learn the best practices for teaching STEM to young children and so our staff could learn how to effectively engage children in STEM learning. We took part in some exciting experiments looking at building structures, moving liquids, and creating circuits. These experiments are designed to integrate STEM vocabulary throughout the sessions and guide children as to how to reflect on what they have experienced and learned.
Some key areas we looked at were:
- Recognising that STEM experiences can be planned and unplanned – Teachable moments can happen at any time, carefully planned activities and materials can inspire the children’s natural desire to learn and explore, but these activities can also create spontaneous teaching and learning.
- Engaging children with thoughtful and intentional learning activities – We are looking at ways to actively engage children in STEM in everyday play, i.e. building ramps, planting in the garden, using a magnifying glass
- Planning activities to prompt investigation and exploration – there are lots of great activities that can prompt further investigation by children of all ages. Rolling a ball down a ramp, does a bigger ball go slower or faster? Using a balance scale, how can changing the weights change the scales? Making a structure to fit within a boundary, how can we use different shapes to build?
- Guiding activities with open-ended questions – What, Why, and How questions encourage deeper thinking, thoughtful answers, and continued exploration
- Understanding that the STEM disciplines are intertwined – for example, growing a vegetable from seed, watching it grow, tasting it, cutting it up, and counting the seeds is both maths and science investigation.
- Integrate skills to go beyond STEM – Best practice in STEM education includes a focus on critical thinking, collaboration, and language and literacy. We’re creating opportunities for children to communicate their ideas through talking and writing.
STEM exploration happens naturally but as educators, we can refine and further help our children develop these skills for lifelong learning. We can give them the opportunity to ask questions, explore and investigate, learn how to work with others, and use modern technology. We can offer children opportunities to find out how things work, explore with their minds and their senses. We can spark their imaginations to talk about what they are thinking and doing. We can provide opportunities to work one-on-one with our staff and in small groups. We will utilise our outdoor space using our recycled bottled greenhouse for growing, our playground for movement and physical experiments, and our STEM room for focused technology and small-scale experiments.
We’re really looking forward to using this knowledge with the children at Beeches Park Day Nursery as they take part in their own experiments, we’re sure they’ll have just as much fun as we did, and learn some great STEM skills.