Inspiring Australia is a national strategy designed to strengthen our society’s engagement with the sciences and to improve science literacy. The current focus of the Inspiring South Australia (ISA) program is on developing a society that critically engages with, and is literate in, key scientific issues. Three key principles guide the investment and oversight of activities aligned with ISA. These include: personal engagement with the process of science; building capacity through collaboration; and imagination and innovation.
A process of research, review and discussion with educators and communicators resulted in a number of observations and identification of factors important for effective and successful early childhood science engagement. These included the need for learning to take place in a safe environment that develops and sustains motivation; barriers to participation being identified and removed; and age appropriate content that meets learning needs. It was also noted that effective parental/carer engagement that supports child learning is important in the development of a child’s confidence in their ability, as are learning opportunities that build upon and engender intrinsic motivation by focusing on the subject matter rather than rewards or punishment.
In South Australia we identified the Little Bang Discovery Club (through the Children’s Discovery Museum) a program of science for 3-5 year olds, to be ideally aligned with our guiding principles, the results of our research and our requirement for science-related engagement for early childhood audiences. During 2016 ISA formed a collaboration with Children’s Discovery Museum and Libraries of SA to establish the program in libraries throughout the state, both regional and metropolitan. This program began during 2016 and is to be continued throughout 2017.
Adeyemo, A. A. (2010). The relationship between students’ participation in school based extracurricular activities and their achievement in physics. International Journal of Science and Technology Education Research, Vol1(6),111-117. Retrieved from www.academicjournals.org/JSTER
American Society for Engineering Education. (2008). Criteria for Evaluating Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM) Extra-curricular Programs. Retrieved from www.asee.org/
Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2015) Schools, Australia, 2014 Table 90a: South Australia 2009-2014 (No.4221.0). Retrieved from www.abs.gov.au