If you’re ever fortunate enough to go walking along the beach so early you make the first footsteps in the sand, you might see an amazing sunrise and discover hidden treasures along the way: beautiful patterns made by nature, fine crab tracks etched in the shoreline, colourful shells and washed up coral. These hidden unexpected treasures truly provide a sense of wonder at the beautiful natural details of the world.
This term in the ELC has been a lot like walking on the beach and finding hidden treasures. We have been blessed to have discovered three in particular who have been redeployed to support the ELC program on site: Jane Simpson, Pearl Fernandes and Ella Gentilin. None of them have a background in early childhood education, but their willingness, enthusiasm to help, share ideas skills and learn has offered the staff new connections and the children new opportunities. Having known Ella a little from our STEM program, I discovered her background as a medical scientist. She was so excited to share her ideas and knowledge with the children in the ELC developing a Thursday STEM program to the children both in staff childcare and the mixed kindergarten group of children. Using real microscopes and collecting mini beasts from the garden, the children took up the opportunity with gusto and Ella and was on fire. She and Pearl offered the children a chromatography experience, where she explaining the scientific process and drew the children’s attention to the results, helping them observe and articulate what was happening.
Our regular STEM program was an innovation developed and led so carefully by Baljit Marwa five years ago, and is now such an embedded part of our program. Continuing the programs has been challenging this year, as has everything – but here came another hidden treasure, right on our doorstep,: Scientist Laura (Swann), mother of one current and one past ELC child, took the reins this year. And what an adventure it has been. With no hope of getting to the science labs or conducting many experiments onsite, Laura has been able to create a whole STEM component from her kitchen at home, encouraging the children to conduct their own science experiments with household ingredients (of course with parental help). Scientist Laura shared her knowledge through video presentations and continues the children’s STEM thinking and language – it has truly been the uncovering of another hidden treasure.
In the ELC, our passion and belief in the importance and power of STEM opportunities has only increased in this year of COVID-19 where it has been critical to talk with the children about the science of a virus, the importance of personal hygiene (check out the pepper and detergent experiment) and the need for more collaboration with others across the world to develop a vaccine.
Sometimes hidden treasures are right under your nose, we are extremely grateful for all the hidden treasures we have uncovered so far this year.
Director of ELC Kew