PlayLab podcast series guides educators on how to support children’s STEM learning
Monash PlayLab Director Marilyn Fleer has brought together a team of experts to produce a four-part podcast to support early childhood leaders and educators to harness the power of play to teach children to engage with STEM learning.
STEM – an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math – has received increasing attention in early childhood education and care (ECEC) circles in recent years. STEM skills are vital in preparing children for the world they will work in, with research from the McKinsey Global Institute noting that “the development and deployment of technology could create up to 50 million jobs globally by 2030”.
Futurists across the world agree that the workforce of the future will require skills and abilities that “are often not part of the formal curriculum in traditional school programs”. Social and emotional sensing and reasoning, flexibility, creativity, collaborative problem-solving, grit and resilience will be increasingly important.
Hands-on inquiry-based STEM education lays the foundation for social and emotional intelligence, raises children’s confidence, and fosters their abilities to plan and reflect, and is now an important part of ECEC delivery.
With play being noted as one of the most effective ways for young children to learn, the Monash PlayLab series explores emerging findings about how play based learning can support children to develop and engage in STEM learning in a new podcast that breaks down the latest research in early childhood education in easy-to-understand episodes.
“The conversations are centred around our play-based model for teaching STEM called a Conceptual PlayWorld. It’s a model that has been found to be transformative, particularly for young girls,” Professor Fleer explained.
Episode 1: Welcome to the PlayLab Podcast
Episode one explores the underpinning research, outlines the origin of Conceptual PlayWorlds, and shares learning from current research as well as offering a ‘deep dive’ into the evidence-based Conceptual PlayWorlds model, which teaches STEM concepts in the early years of childhood, both in the home and at the school.
It begins with the initial question: how do you bring STEM concepts into children’s play through intentional teaching?
Episode 2: Conceptual PlayWorlds for Families
This episode talks about research in family homes with researcher Prabhat Rai, and teacher Oriana Ramunno. Ms Rai has been leading research in STEM with families at the Conceptual PlayLab and Oriana is a teacher and digital storyteller who has been working with the team to co-design new PlayWorlds.
Parent and child perspectives are given from Stacey and her daughter Clara about their experiences of participating in the Conceptual PlayWorld@Home sessions during COVID lockdown.
Episode 3: How educators can create opportunities for girls in STEM
With research showing that girls as young as three are showing signs of disengaging from STEM, this episode is specifically for early childhood educators, looking at Conceptual PlayWorlds in terms of the changed role of the educator and what this means for children’s engagement with STEM, particularly for young girls.
Episode 4: Infants and toddlers, and how they experience STEM
The final episode of the podcast provides insight into what researchers are learning about infants and toddlers, and how they experience STEM in childcare.
Kulsum Chishti-Yonzon is a PhD student in the Conceptual PlayLab, focusing on how infants and toddlers learn and develop STEM concepts and how a Conceptual PlayWorld supports them, who says it will be interesting to see the infants and toddlers the team are working with as four and five year olds, and how their rich imagination develops.
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