OUTSTE(A)M

Outdoor learning in Early Childhood Education and Care and primary schools using age-appropriate technology and the STE(A)M Approach

Aim/Vision

To address the insufficient attention given to STE(A)M education in ​early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings as well as in primary schools.

Objectives

The project aims:

  1. To promote STEM teaching through an interdisciplinary approach.​
  2. To make its approaches adaptable to curriculums.​
  3. To highlight the necessity for early interventions to combat the role model stereotypes and biases regarding STEM professions.

Background

Insufficient attention is being paid to STE(A)M education in early childhood education and care (ECEC) and primary schools. STE(A)M teaching is an interdisciplinary approach to learning that can be easily adapted to the ECEC and primary curriculums. For the younger learners, there is usually no strict timetable divided into subjects, but rather learning moments that happen all the time. STEM experiences can be planned and unplanned by the teachers, just by noticing discovery opportunities in everyday activities and through play-based learning.

As early as two years old, children are exposed to gender role stereotypes and biased ideas about the science and mathematics performance of girls and boys. These preconceptions in primary education and even ECEC show how early interventions on role models of STEM professionals are needed. Moreover, early learning in science and mathematics matters because it promotes the socio-emotional development of children and supports the development of STEM-related skills such as curiosity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, persistence, and problem-solving.

At the same time, there is tremendous work across Europe to help students learn about and engage with sustainability, biodiversity loss and climate change. Students need opportunities to understand and take care of the environment to protect our planet and our future. Unfortunately, not many initiatives focus on placing sustainability at the heart of students from an early age. There is growing concern about the disconnection children have with nature and the little time they spend exploring, learning, and playing spontaneously outdoors.

Activities

OUTSTE(A)M will develop a toolkit that will consist of Learning Scenarios, job profiles, additional resources, and games and toys to help educators teach sustainability topics using a STE(A)M approach and age-appropriate technology (WP2; Activity 1). The toolkit will be tested with teachers, their students, and families in different countries, and improved (WP3; Activity 2). OUTSTE(A)M will produce a set of guidelines on how to integrate the toolkit in ECEC and primary schools (WP4; Activity 3) as well as recommendations for policymakers (WP4; Activity 4). To communicate these results, and engage and train teachers, a MOOC will be developed (WP5; Activity 4) and a competition will follow (WP5; Activity 5), from which best practices will be gathered. The project’s last activity will be an international dissemination workshop in Belgium (WP5; Activity 6), where TOP winners from the competition will be invited.