Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

Builders of the future


Tuesday 07 March 2017

It is Engineers Week this week. The purpose is to celebrate engineering in Ireland.  This starts with us, the educators who are passionate about play, the educators who realise that the very young children we work with everyday are the builders, scientists, architects and engineers of the future!

The concept of STEM subjects is a buzz word in education these days. We know how important it is to support children to engage and be passionate about Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. As technology develops at an ever increasing pace, we must make sure that children develop dispositions such as curiosity and persistence, so they can be part of, contribute to and lead the way of enquiry and discovery in the future. Of course we know this is not confined to secondary schools or even primary.  NAEYC, in a Young Children article says: From their earliest years, children engage with the world in ways that can promote learning related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). They balance blocks to build a wall; bat at a mobile to make it spin; and push and pull magnets together and apart. Research shows that the earlier we guide and support children's wonder about the world--and thereby identify opportunities for children to acquire foundational STEM skills--the more successful they are in all areas of learning later on.    

We see examples every day in our early years’ settings. I’m sure you have seen examples like these in your settings too.

I was in a preschool last week where a little girl was using the Jenga pieces very carefully. She was absorbed but noticed me observing her. She looked up and said I’m building a bouncy castle… engineering in action! jenga pieces - Builders of the future

In the same setting there was another little girl making patterns with shapes. She was very purposeful in how she created the pattern, seeing how the shapes and colours fitted together. More engineering in action!child playing with bricks - Builders of the future

The following day, in another setting, I saw another little girl who was intent on building with Lego. The educator explained to me that this little girls’ family are building a new house. Every day, for long stretches of time, this child recreates what is happening in her new house. The educators know what stage the new house is at through observing her block play. She methodically works on the blocks, the walls, the roof, the windows and doors and everyday builds on her interest in the shape, size and space in her new house. She is given time to do this, 10 or 20 minutes is not enough. A future Dermot Bannon for sure!child playing with lego - Builders of the future

And very young children explore these concepts too. Look at this 13-month old focus intently on playing with the wooden rod and getting it into the hole in the wheel. He has already developed skills of spatial awareness and is honing these skills further in his exploration.

To support children to explore these ideas we must make lots of open-ended materials freely available.  We need to provide extended time for children to play with and explore the materials, enabling them to become involved, absorbed and engaged. Aldo Fortunati referred to Trust, Opportunity and Time as being fundamental to giving children opportunities to really explore and think about their worlds. This means trusting children to be confident and confident learners, giving lots of unscheduled, uninterrupted time to engage and opportunities to think, reflect and be challenged.

For more ideas, look back on our Scéalta post from November 15th 2016, which explores how we support young children to engage with science and our Scéalta post from October 18th 2016 looking at how children playfully become the mathematicians of the future.

We’d love to hear from you about how you support the STEM areas in your setting!

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

reading(4) Certificate(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) PIP(1) learning(15) Exclusion(1) Care-giving routines(1) Trick or treat(1) Treasure(1) Little Buddies(1) communication(4) Montessori(2) Pen green(1) Dance(1) listen(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Thinking(1) Self Help Skills(1) Childhood(1) Training(3) Death(1) Recycle(1) ERASMUS+(3) educarer(1) outdoor play(6) Research Conference 2019(1) MA(1) Touch(1) Snacks(1) RTE Investigates(1) Research Seminar(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) dining(1) Sequins(1) SPICE Framework(1) Team work(1) Childcare(2) Inter-generational(1) books(4) Child mental health(1) Shapes(1) ears(1) curriculum(5) friendships(1) Sculptures(1) Maths(4) Employee(1) refugees(1) Learning Story(1) Albert Einstein(1) San Minia(1) blog(28) mushrooms(1) Margy Whalley(1) Time Out(1) Special Needs Assistants(1) Síolta QAP(1) Síolta(104) Socioemotional development(1) MECPI(1) feisty(1) Traffic Lights(1) Laugh(1) Maynooth University(1) Fantasy play(1) Teamwork(1) INTO(1) dining experiences(1) Sustainability(3) Sustainable(1) Workplace Relations(3) Ariana Pucci(1) Loss(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) early years research(1) Event Guide(1) Interests(1) Leadership(1) Primary School(2) Empathy(1) AIM(2) Relaxation(1) The Lullaby Book(1) play stories(1) educating(1) Aldo Fortunati(4) Arlene Forster(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) National Awards 2018(2) science(3) Children's Research Network(1) Our Little Seed(1) Children's Rights(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Routines(1) Creativity(4) Jenga(1) Mount Everest(1) overhear(1) Limerick(1) Smiles(1) Sociodramatic play(1) Aistear(108) Flowers(1) Valentine's Day(3) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) grandchild(1) Family wall(1) Wendy Lee(2) Anxiety(2) Horizon 2020(1) meals(3) Stress(2) Consent(1) parents(5) Educators(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Breathing(2) value(1) eating(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Participation(1) Obesity(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) maternity health(1) Competent(1) baby room(1) Budget 2018(1) ICBN(1) Capable(1) Maternity Leave(1) Motor neuron disease(1) Engineering(2) Lego(2) Identity(5) Children(1) Plants(1) Art(6) Independence(1) UD(1) Policy(2) Nutrition(1) Playdough(1) supportive environments(2) Inspirational(2) story time(1) relationships(15) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Feeding(1) DCYA(4) Names(1) social media(1) Appreciation(1) Titles(1) GDPR(1) Quality(4) Wrapping paper(1) TRAP(1) Masterclass(2) Degree(1) Pobal(1) Thanks(1) College(1) Bereavement(1) NAEYC(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) babies(7) Magda Gerber(1) Confidence(1) dogs(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) food(1) HR(1) Reggio(1) Brain(1) Role play(1) Afghanistan(1) Twitter(1) transitions(10) Growing up Outdoors(1) Love(2) Santa(2) Settling in(4) EECERA 2016(1) Mo Scéal(1) Academics(1) Mental Health(3) Early Learning and Care(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) Wonder(1) Interactions(2) Maria Montessori(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(2) Kids Own(1) Positivity(1) bonds(1) TOY Programme(1) Irish(1) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) development(8) Treasure Chest(1) scéalta(26) Diversity(1) ECEC(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Performance Management(1) Universal Design(2) role playing(1) Magnavacchi(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) EM Standing(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Social Skills(1) Performing(1) Care routines(1) Mealtimes(1) Favouritism(1) Frustrations(1) Human Resources(1) Inter-generational learning(1) Time(1) listening(1) Mayo(1) Mindfulness(2) Mixed age groups(2) Awards 2019(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) New Appointments(1) Easter(1) Cork(1) Adoption(1) Painting(1) Mud kitchens(1) Shoes(1) Siolta blog(2) Wilenski(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) Fabric(1) Trade union(1) Intention(1) United Nations(1) Traditions(2) Annual Conference 2017(2) Vertical grouping(1) Exercise(1) conversations(1) UNCRC(1) Trade Unions(1) Kilkenny(1) Maths Week(1) Drawing(2) Christmas Creativity(2) Interaction(1) Liz Kerrins(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Orla Kenny(1) risky play(2) First 5(1) Biting(1) risk(2) purpose(1) Arithmetic(1) worries(1) Meet the Members(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Potential(1) Halloween(2) Sweets(1) Decision Making(1) Snakes(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) education(2) Family(1) Rituals(1) Buddy Bench(1) journey(1) NCCA(2) Japan(1) Sleep(1) Decisions(1) Ceremony(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Creative(1) Study Trip(1) Maynooth(1) science week(2) CPD(1) budget(1) Engagement(1) Communications(1) Window(1) Reflective Practice(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) Administrative Burden(1) Visual Impairment(1) Home Corner(1) ECCE(6) Health(1) Support(1) Laughter(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) The Jelly King(1) Weather(1) Through the looking glass(1) Online(1) Body Language(1) Well-Being(7) Learning Story Awards(1) Culture(2) Pobal sector profile(1) Line-ups(1) Celebrate(1) Professionalisation(4) emotional environment(1) Autism(3) Iceland(1) Oireachtas(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Supernanny(1) outdoors(3) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Norway(2) Workforce(1) Self-regulation(1) Affordability(1) Nonverbal(1) Leprechauns(1) Builders(1) San Miniato(4) early childhood educator(1) Learning Stories(7) Xbox(1) Early Years Educators(2) curiosity(3) Mathematicians(1) memories(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Change(1) National Awards 2019(1) Communicating(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) St. Patrick's Day(1) trust(3) Storytelling(2) Story(1) Sport(1) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Photographs(1) Together Old and Young Programme(1) research(6) Technology(2) Engineering Ireland(1) preschool(2) Italy(1) CIT(1) Snack Time(1) Investment(1) Glitter(2) community(5) Craft(1) National Holiday(1) Qualifications(1) Giraffe(2) CCTV(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Music(3) Maths Week Ireland(1) Buddies(1) AsIAm(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Nuturing interactions(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Design(1) Advocacy(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) collaboration(1) Map(1) Confident(1) planning(1) Blocks(1) respect(5) documentation(2) Trigonometry(1) Graduate(1) linc(1) Queues(1) First 5 strategy(1) Mark Twain(1) under 3's(3) Early Years(1) pets(1) Patterns(1) Penguins(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) National Pyjama Day(1) Wesco(1) Grief(1) Meal time(1) Environment(2) Party(1) RIE philosphy(1) Scents(1) Spiders(1) Upcycling(1) Cognitive development(1) Gratitude(1) Gardening(1) Syria(1) Vietnam(1) Playschool(1) Kerry(1) Self-Esteem(1) routine(2) Celebrations(4) Thank you(1) christmas(8) European Project(1) University(1) Yoga(1) STEM(2) animals(2) Book Club(2) stories(2) Malaguzzi(1) play(30) Staff Motivation(1) Visitors(1) experience(1) Prexit(1) Belonging(3) Imagination(3) Arts(1) child-centred approach(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Exploring(1) Academic Skills(1) interacting(2) UN(1) Mantra(1) environments(1) Whole Group(1) Workplace well-being(2) Seas Suas(1) toddlers(3) Plastic(1) Challenges(1) Running(1) Behaviour(3) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) risk assessment(1) emotions(2) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Scéalta Blog(84) Games(1) Facebook(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Learning journals(1) Graduation(1) Light table(1) Funding(1) Awards 2018(3) IGL(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) Engineers Week(2) Iraq(1) Magic(1) Inclusion(3) Recycling(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) dublin(2) Summer(1) Winter(1) outdoor space(3) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Awards(2) Impact(1) ReCreate(2) Exit interview(1) Leargas(1) Budget 2019(2) Community involvement(1) Eritrea(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Deirdre Rogers(1)


Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine