Little Scientists - Inquiry-Based Learning in STEM
Little Scientists at FROEBEL
FROEBEL brought the Little Scientists to Australia in 2013. All our FROEBEL Early Learning Centres are certified as ‘Little Scientists House’ and the Little Scientists have become an integral part of our educational program across all age groups.
We believe all young children should have daily access to scientific, mathematical and technical learning experiences that are joyful and empowering. We have made it our mission to do all we can to reach as many children as possible with our Little Scientists program, and to ignite their curiosity for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). We believe this is best done by encouraging inquiry-based learning where the early childhood educators and teachers are involved as learning facilitators, but the actual learning, problem-solving and research is undertaken by the children themselves.
FROEBEL’s Little Scientists run workshops for early childhood educators and teachers to empower them to implement age-appropriate STEM exploration in their curriculum for young children. Transferring the inquiry-based learning approach from the Little Scientists workshops into children’s daily activities not only enhances the joy of learning and exploring as such but also boosts the children’s self-confidence, encourages their critical thinking and improves their overall mathematical, technical and scientific understanding, fosters their social and learning skills and extends their vocabulary through active collaboration with their peers and educators.
National Rollout of Little Scientists
The Australian Government has been supporting and funding the national rollout of the Little Scientists project under the National Innovation and Science Agenda since 2016.
Our Little Scientists team have established 42 network partnerships across Australia and workshops are delivered in all States and Territories. As of October 2020, more than 6,700 educators had attended our professional development workshops and our program could reach more than 193,000 children throughout Australia. This is a tremendous achievement for our team.
Corporate Partners for Early STEM
In 2017, FROEBEL and PwC Australia entered a Strategic Partnership for its STEM education initiative Little Scientists. PwC has been working with us during the further national rollout of our Little Scientists program across all States and Territories. FROEBEL has been collaborating with PwC as part of the firm’s 21st Century Minds STEM education Accelerator Program, backed by the Office of the Chief Scientist and some of Australia’s largest corporates, including: Google, NAB, BP and GE. FROEBEL’s Little Scientists initiative was selected by a panel of PwC leaders for its potential to have a significant impact on STEM education in Australia, as well as its potential for scale with PwC support.
In April 2018, Little Scientists was chosen by the Toyota Community Trust to deliver the Water and Engineering modules to 150 early childhood educators in the six municipalities in Melbourne’s West. This corporate partnership has proven to be very successful and the program was very well received in the communities. From late 2019 and as an expansion of this collaboration, the Little Scientists program has been building the capacity of early childhood educators and teachers in two designated regional and disadvantaged areas - Wyndham City Council and Albury-Wodonga region - which have limited access to high quality professional development opportunities, particularly in STEM. The Little Scientists Inservice Partnership will deliver in-service training whereby an average of 15 educators of the same education and care service participate in this whole-of-staff training. Little Scientists Australia will support these selected services long-term to become early STEM certified Little Scientists Houses, providing excellence in early STEM education. These centres will have the capacity to inspire their region and act as STEM Ambassadors.
Another industry collaboration with Dyson Australia as the Little Scientists Air workshop sponsor commenced in August 2019. As part of this national air quality education initiative in partnership with Little Scientists, specifically designed workshops will be held in collaboration with Dyson engineers to help educators understand air science and air quality and to consequently encourage children to see, engage with and explore what can be found in our air and the impacts of air pollution.
Foundation 'Kinder forschen'
Little Scientists Australia is based on the successful work of the German Foundation “Kinder forschen”, founded in 2006. The development of workshops and materials by the "Kinder forschen" Foundation draws on current knowledge in developmental psychology, learning research, early education and didactics. In addition, the Foundation has incorporated numerous empirical findings and content-based recommendations accumulated during trainer workshops, regular preschool visits and observations made in the “Kinder forschen” Foundation's local networks in Germany over the last 13 years. The OECD Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) Governing Board has recommended Little Scientists as an exemplary initiative for innovative teaching in its report “Innovative Teaching for Effective Learning”.
The Little Scientists program is managed independently from our childcare operations; it is funded through workshop participation fees and government grants.
If you would like to be part of this exciting project, and if you would like your childcare centre, family day care, kindergarten or preschool to participate, please contact Little Scientists or visit the Little Scientists website to learn more.