Last week, all Milestones Early Learning Centres participated in National Science Week, one of our more loved and educational events of the year for our children, educators and teachers!
National Science Week is also where we encourage all our centres to get involved in our Big Thinkers – STEM program, developed to foster and grow science education and expertise across Australia. The Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) "Big Thinkers" program is a part of the Lifelong Learning Curriculum for children aged three to five.
Developed in collaboration with Dr Tess Boyle, Adjunct Associate Professor, Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University, Affinity Education's "Big Thinkers' is an integrated STEM program that covers natural science, weather, physics, and biology using a learning-through-play and hands-on approach.
Dr Lesley Jones, Head of Pedagogy and Practice at Affinity, said: "Jobs in STEM are highly paid and highly valued in the Australian and global economy, and there is a lack of talent entering the sector. By starting STEM education early with children, there is a huge opportunity to excite them about STEM and develop a pipeline of future Australian leaders and thinkers in the space."
The curriculum is taught across all our centres throughout the year, with a supported professional development program for our educators and teachers delivering the program at each centre.
Milestones Early Learning Werribee ensured all their rooms, from Babies and toddlers to their School Readiness rooms, had activities that immersed the children in science-based play and education.
Hina Rajguru, Assistant Centre Manager at Milestones Werribee, shared how they incorporated National Science Week into every room at their centre.
The Babies’ room had an exciting time making Galactic slime (black with glitter) and Marshmallow slime (pink) in honour of Science Week.
The Wombat Room had lots of fun with the rainbow floating colours activity and painting with bi-carb soda and vinegar, and it was a great learning experience.
The Platypus Room enjoyed a range of activities across the week, including creating rain clouds in a jar. This activity teaches the children a valuable lesson on how rain is formed when the clouds are full of water. The children also learned about chemical reactions using bi-carb soda and coloured vinegar, which was undoubtedly the children’s favourite activity. Finally, some of the other great activities the platypus room children enjoyed were oil and water exploration as well as sink & float.
The Kinder room children made a volcano city (which was about allowing the children to explore dinosaur fossils); it was a great joy to watch as the kids were breaking the fossils and taking the dinosaurs out one by one. The children’s favourite game by far was playing ‘floor as lava game’; the giggles and laughter were fantastic. The Kinder room children ended the week with rainbow milk as a science experiment as well as sink and float.
Hina Rajguru shared, “The main aim of these activities for the children was to create a safe and fun environment where they can foster learning through play. The STEM-based activities we had in place aimed to benefit the children, foster curiosity, ignite children’s imagination, and help nurture their love for learning. Moreover, engaging in science experiments cultivated critical thinking as the children refined their skills in observing, analysing, and incorporating new information.
“I truly believe that when young children engage in experiments, the tactile of experiments allows them to visualise abstract ideas, fostering comprehension that traditional teaching methods might struggle to achieve. When children witness unexpected outcomes, they are prompted to think creatively and experiment with new struggles, and with this, newfound confidence results will have a positive ripple effect, encouraging children to tackle new challenges with enthusiasm and a drive to learn.”
Milestones Early Learning Forest Hill, similarly, created a week of experimentation and fun for all ages, as well as providing the children the chance to own their own learning experiences.
Each room was able to choose their own activities which ranged from bubbles for the babies through to volcanos using Bi-Carb soda and vinegar, mixing soil with different agents to see the outcomes, balloons and air.
The children enjoyed the bubbles for the babies and messy play-based activities for the toddlers and preschool children, which promotes the development of fine motor skills and self-awareness.
The STEM Big Thinkers curriculum has been available at all Milestones kindergarten and preschool centres for children aged three years and up since 2022, and we are incredibly proud of how this program has grown!