Affinity Education Group introduces Big Thinkers STEM program
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Affinity Education Group introduces Big Thinkers STEM program

by Freya Lucas

November 23, 2022

Affinity Education Group has recently introduced the Big Thinkers Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program to its 195+ services nationwide. The program has been 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 between three and five years that covers natural science, weather, physics, and biology using a learning-through-play and hands-on approach,” Dr Jones explained. 


Big Thinkers STEM is offered to children as part of Affinity’s weekly program, and is delivered by Bachelor-qualified Teachers along with Lead Educators.


“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,” Dr Boyle added. 


“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.” 


The 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 children to work towards key development criteria, in a measurable process that will allow educators and families to see real time development. 


Early indications are that the program is a big hit with children and educators alike, with early childhood teacher Kimberly Webb saying: “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.”  


“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 powerpoint presentation of my class so the children could look at images of themselves as babies versus photos of themselves now.” 


Aparna Aravind, Lead Educator at Milestones Early Learning Tarneit, said that STEM-based education teaches children “far more than science, technology, engineering and mathematical concepts”.


“Big Thinkers develops life-long skills such as curiosity, critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, communication, and collaboration,” she explained. 


“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.” 


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.  

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