Orbit hub from Rise & Shine Kindergarten an ECEC STEM first
An inspiring and creative STEM-themed learning hub known as Orbit has been created by NSW based early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Rise & Shine Kindergarten, capitalising on the Australian government’s increasing focus on early literacy and numeracy, STEM and problem-solving.
“In addition to the learning benefits of this amazing space, we also reflected during the lockdown how much children were missing out on excursions and visiting inspiring spaces like science centres and museums, so we created our own wonderful space that combines amazing STEM inspired experiences that all children from Rise & Shine Kindergarten centres can safely access at all times,” a Rise & Shine spokesperson said.
Staffed by dedicated STEM educators, the space is “a great mix of traditional and new technologies,” Sibylle Siedler, Project Director, Little Scientists said.
When asked to share the inspiration behind the space, Rise & Shine pointed to research supported by the National Science Foundation which concludes that young children benefit from learning STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) because these disciplines play a fundamental role in setting the foundations for future learning.
“Inquiry-based STEM education in the early years is a collaborative process, which encourages children to raise questions and explore their interests. In a playful way, children are familiarised with scientific processes and learn to think scientifically. Early STEM education does not teach facts but ignites children’s inquisitive minds,” the spokesperson added.
Since the space opened in November children from Rise & Shine Kindergarten services have been visiting Orbit and have been excited and inspired by their visits.
“We have seen some amazing projects commence at our services as an extension of what they have learnt and what they want to continue exploring,” the spokesperson explained.
Educators have received STEM specific professional development from Little Scientists with face to face workshops, STEM hour webinars and live online workshops.
“At Little Scientists, we are very excited about collaborating closely and long term with all the educators, educational leaders and centre directors across all Rise and Shine services – supporting them to spot the STEM in the everyday and flexing their STEM muscles. When that learning is combined with state-of-the-art learning facilities such as Orbit it’s a delight, and many generations of children will benefit from this investment in both the educator’s and children’s future,” Ms Siedler added.
Praise for thoughtful design
Dr M. Chang, PhD (Motor Control and Learning) describes the space as “an incredible STEM learning environment for preschool-aged children where experiences are grounded with evidence, which is beneficial for young developing minds in their early years.”
“This space is unique and a great innovation for early STEM Education,” Dr Chang added.
“We are so proud of the amazing STEM learning environment we have created at Orbit,” Jennifer Weston, Head Of Operations, Rise & Shine Education said.
“It has exceeded our expectations. We have been designing the hub and researching all the amazing resources in there for the past 2 years, and now to finally see the beaming faces of the children as they explore the space is unbelievable,” she added.
The Rise & Shine children have enjoyed using the space since its opening, sharing the following perspectives:
“Orbit is like a museum. I really want to go again” Isabella, 5 years old
“I love the sand. We can change the world” Leon, 4 years old
“I love the construction, the lego table, the lizard, there’s dinosaurs we can play with. When I go there I feel really good and happy” Joshua, 5 years old
“ I really like the draw table. I like it when I draw a dinosaur and it hatches alive on the TV’’ Hannah, 5 years old
2022 and beyond
As border restrictions ease Tabby will visit the Rise & Shine services in Queensland, and the Orbit space will open up to the broader sector.
Rise & Shine will be offering free STEM professional development opportunities from Orbit in 2022 for educators, and will open Orbit for tours for any educators who may be interested in viewing the space.
For more information, or to remain across Orbit events in 2022 please see here.
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