What is Big Thinkers STEM?
Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) has always played a vital role in the development of our Lifelong Learning Curriculum for children aged 3 to 5 years old.
Recently, Affinity Education Group have released the Lifelong Learning Curriculum “Big Thinkers STEM” program throughout our 195+ centres. This program was developed by Affinity Education Head of Pedagogy and Practice Dr Lesley Jones in collaboration with Dr Tess Boyle, Adjunct Associate Professor, Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University.
“Big Thinkers STEM is an integrated and intentional program designed for children aged 3-5 years to that covers natural science, weather, physics, and biology using a learning-through-play and hands-on approach,” Dr Jones explains.
“Big Thinkers STEM is offered to children as part of our weekly program, included within our daily fees.
It is delivered by Bachelor-qualified Teachers along with Lead Educators as part of our Lifelong Learning School Readiness Kindergarten or Preschool classrooms around Australia, and we are so excited to offer this to the future scientists, engineers, mathematicians and designers who attend our centres,” she said.
Dr Tess Boyle said “STEM learning experiences support the development of important learning dispositions such as problem solving, critical thinking and a sense of inquiry that we know children will need for school and well beyond.
Over recent years, children’s engagement with STEM has had a growing focus in education and the intentional teaching of foundational elements of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in a coordinated holistic approach,” she said.
The Lifelong Learning Curriculum Big Thinkers STEM program consists of four units of international teaching which encourage children to explore the answers to the questions:
- How do we grow and change?
- What do we eat?
- What is weather?
- How does it move?
Each unit in the Big Thinkers STEM program has been designed to allow your child to work towards key development criteria, in a measurable process that will allow educators and families to see real time development in your children.
Kimberly Webb, Teacher at Milestones Early Learning Peregian Springs shared, “We have been exploring unit one of the big thinkers program in my kindergarten class at Milestones Peregian springs.
The children have loved learning about the human body, living and non -living things and we have just started exploring how things grow and change for humans and animals.”
Kimberly continued, “Tomorrow we look at plants! it's been great fun and awesome learning. We have created sorting tables of living and non-living things, measured everyone's height to see and compare who was the tallest in the class and I took the concept of how people grow and created a power point presentation of my class so the children could look at images of themselves as baby's versus photos of themselves now.”
How will this support my child?
The Lifelong Learning Curriculum Big Thinkers STEM program is aligned to the Early Years Learning Framework, ensuring:
Your child has a strong sense of identity - Through creating a safe secure and supported learning experience, your child will develop their emerging autonomy, inter-dependence, resilience, and sense of agency; through this, developing on their self-confidence with encouraging interaction with care, empathy and respect.
Your child has connected with and contributes to their world – Through meaningful interactions, your child will have a sense of belonging while developing on their understanding of responsibility and role within a group environment. Preparing your child for social awareness, responsibility and participation is a key focus on preparing your child for school.
Your child has a strong sense of wellbeing – Allowing your child to become stronger in their social and emotional wellbeing, as well as, taking responsibility for their own health and physical wellbeing.
Your child is a confident and involved learner – Creating an environment that allows your child to develop on their curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity. Developing a range of skills and processes such as problem solving, inquiry, experimentation, hypothesising, researching and investigating.
Your child is an effective communicator – Your child will work on the ability to have meaningful communication-based interaction, both verbal and non-verbal, developing on free thinking and self-expression.
Aparna Aravind, Lead Educator at Milestones Early Learning Tarneit explained, “STEM-based education teaches children far more than science, technology, engineering and mathematical concepts; with a focus on hands-on learning and real-world applications, Big Thinkers, develops life-long skills such as curiosity, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration.”
“Our kindergarten has incorporated the concept of living and non-living things in their learning where they participated in an activity to identify and classify living and non-living things.”
“Children learned how all living things could breathe, eat, grow, move, reproduce, and have sense whereas non-living things could not do all these. As they identified both living and non-living things, the children were able to give reasons for their identification.”
Involving families in learning outcomes
Through Storypark, children’s learning outcomes will be shared with families in photo updates. The project-based investigations will also be evident in classrooms, and through children’s individual learning portfolios.
If you would like your child to benefit from our Big Thinkers STEM program, contact your closest Centre online or call 1800 CHILD CARE.