The Australian Government will provide $5.8 million over three years to the University of Canberra, the successful provider, for the design, development and implementation of the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) Pilot.
The Pilot will provide the opportunity for preschool children to explore an online, play-based learning environment, delivered through a series of applications (apps) for tablet devices that are rich in STEM concepts. Six apps will be developed, including a Families app and an Educator app to assist with integrating ELSA into the preschool program and to extend learning opportunities at home.
An Expression of Interest process is open from 5 March 2017 to 10 April 2017 to all preschool services across Australia to take part in the 2018 ELSA Pilot. Further information about the Pilot is available at www.elsa.edu.au.
Early Learning STEM Research
Victoria University was engaged by the Australian Government in 2016 to investigate the quality and range of STEM education apps that are currently available for early learning in preschools.
The analysis of STEM apps included whether they met the criteria for teaching STEM concepts and whether they met the categories of being skills based, including exploratory games-based; construction and experimentation; interactive books; and allowing for creativity.
Apps were assessed on how they met the learning outcomes as stated in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). A gap analysis of the market using the research criteria found that there are a large number of STEM apps on the market, but only a limited number can be considered as being useful to educators to encourage STEM in early learning.
This research has been used to inform the development of the ELSA apps.
Download the full report Early Learning in STEM - Multimodal learning in the 21st century
The Australian Government has committed $4 million over four years from 2016–17 to The Smith Family to expand the operation of the Let’s Count early years mathematics program.
This funding will also help to facilitate the development of an online version and accompanying parent mobile application. Let’s Count helps early years educators support parents to develop the maths skills of their child by noticing, exploring and talking about numbers, counting, measurement and patterns in their daily lives. This in turn helps these children to develop the numeracy skills needed to successfully transition to school.
Further information on Let’s Count is available at www.thesmithfamily.com.au/campaigns/lets-count-program
Froebel Australia Limited will receive a grant of $4 million over three years from 2016–17 to extend the reach of the Little Scientists program and expand the community of STEM practice in early learning settings. Little Scientists helps early learning educators to build their skills and confidence in leading STEM activities. Educators are provided with STEM ideas and concepts using everyday materials that they can then use to lead children in their care through fun and inquiry-based learning.
Further information on Little Scientists is available at http://littlescientists.org.au
The STEM in the Early Years Programme grant guidelines
The STEM in the Early Years Programme grant guidelines refer to the Let’s Count and Little Scientists initiatives and are now publicly available.