Australian preschools are about to find out if they have been selected for a new $6 million STEM program. The play-based science, technology, engineering and maths program will be piloted at 100 preschools in 2018.
STEM will be formally introduced to young children using apps that “go beyond the screen” to encourage active play that supports exploring location, patterns and problem solving. Preschools selected to take part in the pilot will be announced this month. The Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) pilot, spearheaded by the University of Canberra, is being welcomed by early education experts.
“The apps will introduce STEM principles through play, on and off the screen, providing educators with an opportunity to enhance play with learning experiences,” says Professor Lowrie, from the University of Canberra STEM Education Research Centre.
The program aims to build children’s inquiry, experiment, observation and reasoning skills. Studies show STEM subjects will play a vital role for future employment even for preschoolers. A Future of Work: Setting Kids up for Success report, published in 2016 by the Regional Australia Institute, states that “to remain competitive in the 2030 job market, one in two Australians will need skills in programming and software development, as well as an ability to build digital technology”.