ELSA Program significantly boosts STEM outcomes, improves language skills
The Sector > Provider > General News > ELSA Program significantly boosts STEM outcomes, improves language skills

ELSA Program significantly boosts STEM outcomes, improves language skills

by Freya Lucas

December 14, 2022

Evidence from the University of Canberra has shown the impact of the popular ELSA program, which has been adopted by more than 400 early childhood centres and preschools around Australia, demonstrating that both educators and students achieve considerably better science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) outcomes thanks to the program.


The program began in 2016, when the STEM Education Research Centre (SERC) was awarded $5.6 million by the Australian Government to create the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) Program.


When children engaged with the ELSA program, researchers found, their STEM literacy skills improved at a rate three times higher than for children not in the ELSA Program. In numeracy, children improved at a rate twice that of children not in ELSA.


Educators also benefited from the program, with research showing that their understanding, interest and confidence in teaching STEM content improved when they engaged with ELSA. 


These results, STEM Education Research Centre Director Professor Tom Lowrie said, are “a heartening example of education research being utilised in the classroom to the benefit of educators and students. 


“We developed this program to fill a STEM education gap in early childhood years,” Professor Lowrie said.


“The ELSA program provides a tangible tool for our researchers to share the most up-to-date, evidence-informed STEM education approaches directly with practising educators.”


ELSA is now attracting considerable attention from overseas governments, with the program featuring a suite of play-based digital apps for children, as well as an Educator App and a Families App, and more than 100 classroom activities for children to engage in – ensuring a healthy balance between digital play and physical play.


Each app engages children in a different STEM skill. The program has 16 apps grouped into 4 bundles – Patterns and Relationships, Location and Arrangement, Representations, and Investigations.


The app also includes 30+ lesson plans created by the SERC’s team of education specialists.


ELSA has also been invaluable for those children who have English as an additional language. For Boopa Werem Kindergarten and Preschool, a not-for-profit service in Cairns, Queensland, the program has supported the educators to analyse the speech and comprehension of children who speak Aboriginal English. 


“ELSA’s App 2 has been really good for a lot of our children where English is a second language because they speak a creole or Aboriginal English and they don’t use all those words necessarily all the time,” explained Boopa Werem’s Kindergarten Teacher Lynne Ireland.


“It’s helpful to see which words they understand, and which ones they don’t.”


Ms Ireland also likes the way the program uses tools and resources which are easily accessible in most services. 


“I really like the Educator App and the examples of the Experience, Represent and Apply sequence. They help you think about all the things that you have already and how you can use them in different ways.”


The ELSA Program is available to all Australian preschools, childcare centres, and primary school foundation years. Those who connect with the program receive 16 world-class digital apps for children, 100+ activity ideas, STEM books and games, 30+ lesson plans and access to the professional learning course. 

Download The Sector's new App!

ECEC news, jobs, events and more anytime, anywhere.

Download App on Apple App Store Button Download App on Google Play Store Button