Preschool teacher in Serbia.
As a preschool teacher, I research and develop activities that support young children’s STEM learning. STEM activities are in the focus of education right now, and for good reason. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) – and the Arts for STEAM – are crucial to kids’ learning and our future. But how to get your younger children interested? In this first blog post, as a GSA ambassador I would like to describe several STEM activities in one of my classes (6-year-olds). I will explain the learning behind the activities and offer easy suggestions for engaging children around STEM.
Mirrors and Kaleidoscope
Preschoolers from Subotica, Serbia are taking part in eTwinning projects for already a couple of years. Our Preschool Institution “Naša radost” is encouraging teachers to take part in STEM projects, and we are enjoying these little science adventures a lot. We took part in previous years in the STEM Discovery Week 2019 and STEM Discovery Campaign 2020 organized by the European Schoolnet Academy.
I always encourage children to keep an open mind about science, to think critically, to communicate and collaborate on real-life problems. This approach was very helpful when we started to use STEM activities on the daily bases in our kindergarten.
The group called “Ladybugs” (from the kindergarten “Šumica”) teamed u some international partners: Hungary and Romania.Our partners were two fantastic school teachers with their classes. (1st and 4th grade). Our journey with science, physics and optics started in March 2020 with an eTwinning project “Mirror,mirror”. We used fairy tales and stories about mirrors to evoke interest in STEM subjects in our preschoolers. The whole journey started with a story about a lost mirror. When we motivated the kids with a story, we asked questions: what is a mirror, how it is made, what is it for etc. We used cameras, mobile phones to capture reflective images in our classroom, yard, street etc. We even organized a photo contest and shared the results on Facebook.
Our goal was to introduce children to the world of science by working on digital competencies. Using web tools give us the idea to expand our project and, instead of focusing only on mirrors, we wanted something more…
For the following project that we started at the beginning of March 2020, we used the Scientix resource. In collaboration with high school students from Zaječar, another city in Serbia, and with their physics teacher, Mladen Šljivović. The participation in the project gave the 6 year-olds the opportunity to become little scientists, explorers and STEM enthusiasts.
Firstly, we were searching for mirrors and reflective images in our surrounding. We experimented with different materials and searched for the right ones for our kaleidoscope.
We learned about different glass, paper, plastic materials and their features like transparency. The kaleidoscope was made from a cardboard roll, silver foil, pearls and beads, some colourful silk-paper. We enjoyed our product by standing beside our window or in our sunny schoolyard. Our project partners wanted to help us to enable our kaleidoscope to use on cloudy days too. So they made a box with a battery and a little light bulb in it. They sent us this “magic-box” by mail.
The mailman arrived on the 10th of March. Why is that important? That was the last week our schools were open. So, it came just in time! We connected the wire to the battery and enjoyed the colours of our kaleidoscope. You can follow our project journey steps in the following video.
How to continue?
When the schools and kindergartens got closed, our Preschool Institution reacted immediately: we switched to Viber groups, closed/private Facebook groups with parents in order to continue our communications, keep up with preschool curriculum and projects. The parent-children teams are very active, they are sending us the learning material, we are exchanging ideas etc.
The teachers were also quick in organizing support on social media: we have groups for exchanging materials, ideas or tips. We organize Zoom meetings, also live events on the eTwinning live platform. This form of communication is very effective and it shows that teachers are very resourceful and helpful in these hard times.