Over the weeks, the teachers observed a continued interest in volcanoes. The teachers planned activities using STEAM learning. Early childhood settings are a great place to support STEAM learning when you consider the definitions of each discipline:
Science – The process of finding out about the world and how things work by exploring, gathering data, looking for patterns, and developing hypotheses, explanations and ideas and using evidence to support a viewpoint.
Technology – this includes tools that have been designed to help meet human needs, ranging from a lever, to writing with a pencil, to a hammer and nail, to magnifying glasses, to complex construction, then moving onto digital devices such as computers or phones or augmented/virtual reality.
Arts – this is the creative, visual, auditory, tactile, emotional, physical, and every other sensory expression we can use to experience, learn and grow.
Engineering – the art and process of planning, designing and developing or creating structures, systems and tools to help us in our everyday life and to help solve problems.
Mathematics – observing shapes, symmetry, space; measuring angles and distances and quantities such as ‘how many’ or ‘how much’ of something and ‘how to modify or adapt it’ to fit an environment.
STEAM activities should be planned to be both fun and extended learning for the children at their own pace. They should allow children to explore with their minds and senses, through observing, building, testing, designing, asking probing questions and solving problems.
Our early childhood curriculum states that providing a learning environment for children to experience new opportunities helps them to construct new knowledge. It draws on cultural, aesthetic, historical, social, scientific, technological, mathematical and geographical knowledge (p.22).
The teachers also enhanced the learning with cultural relevance and connectivity via local stories and Maori legends. ‘Battle of the Mountains’ by Peter Gossage was a favourite of the children, and the teachers found this a great tool to support the Paper Volcano kit. It is a captivating retelling of the Maori myth of how Mt Taranaki, Mt Tauhara and Mt Putauaki came to stand where they are today in the North Island of New Zealand.