A total of 888 eligible preschool services applied through an expression of interest process (5 March to 10 April 2017) to take part in the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) pilot. Of these, 100 preschool services have been selected to participate in the ELSA pilot from Term 1, 2018.
ELSA is one of three early learning initiatives funded under the ‘Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM’ measure, under the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). ELSA is designed to inspire curiosity and engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for preschool aged children. ELSA includes digital, play-based learning experiences rich in STEM concepts, delivered through a series of digital applications (apps) for tablet devices.
Children at the 100 pilot preschools will have access to four play-based ELSA apps aligned with the Early Years Learning Framework. The ELSA apps encourage learning beyond the screen through active, child centred experiences that introduce STEM practices, such as exploring location, patterns and problem solving. The play- based apps support children’s learning and act as a foundation for children to explore STEM concepts. Additionally, an educator app and a family app are also being developed to support preschoolers in the ELSA pilot sites as they learn about STEM.
For further information about the ELSA pilot, including the list of 100 selected preschool services, please visit the Early Learning STEM Australia website.
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 on The Smith Family website.
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 on the Little Scientists website.
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.