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Week 1: Develop International Early Years Science Activity

C-J Foster

Welcome to the first week of this project! Great job on taking part and showing an interest in the development of early years science activities!

This week you will:

  • Be introduced to the project and your team
  • Share your expertise and motivation for taking part in this project
  • Hear from creative and inspiring science educators at Z-Arts and UManresa
  • Plan your next steps and research!

Once with your team work through the following steps.

1. In your team discuss the starting prompts from Getting Started Section. They are included below for reference. You should spend about 15 minutes on this.

Discuss the questions below with your team, the notes you made prior to this session may help here!

  • How can you identify and communicate scientific concepts/processes for children under the age of 5?
  • What value does non-directed/exploratory processes have for this context?
  • How can you communicate with children in a non-didactic manner?
  • Are there any barriers that prevent young children from engaging with science?
  • How can you enhance the ideas and resources that early years practitioners can use to develop science education for under 5s?
  • How can the teaching environment/space be used?
  • What role does play/fun have in science education?
  • What excites you or worries you about exploring this?

2. Reflect on this discussion as a group. You should spend about 15 minutes on this.

Reflect on your discussion around your team’s skills and motivations

  • As a group think about and discuss whether you noticed any common themes in what you each bring to the project?
  • Do you share skills or do your expertise complement each other?
  • Are there particular areas of the brief you share an interest in?
  • How might the above points start to shape your ideas for the project

3. Plan your research. Based on the discussions above you should now have a few ideas of themes you might like to explore further. Don’t worry if these seem a little broad or vague at this stage you can narrow things down next week! You should use these themes to outline research you should conduct before the next session.

Research your initial themes and ideas

You should explore the themes and concepts you have discussed as a team. Things to consider might be what knowledge do you need to really understand these concepts? Where can you find this?


You should now have met as a group and completed the tasks for this week.

This is the time (the first session) that you should also decide on a workspace to share your work. You could use an online sharing platform like SharePoint (which we recommend as it is compatible with Teams) or Google Docs. Or, if you’re able to meet in person, you can book a space to meet online or in person by booking one of the Library Workspaces in the All Saints Building.

The Video from Gabriel Lemkow introducing the Lab0-6 Space

Further Specialist Information From Gabriel Lemkow at UManresa Lab0-6

Regarding the video. I said some things but I missed saying others. Maybe at the end you can emphasise these elements that should be taken into account with the science proposals:

  • Free-choice: The different stations should be chosen freely by the children in the order they desire (of course if some stations present similar areas of knowledge -eg- geology, physics,…) then they can be close to one another to expand their experiences about such specific areas)
  • Hands-on: ensure the children can touch and work directly with the materials without the needs of mediators
  • Autonomy: the stations/proposals/modules should present the phenomena to explore/enquiry/materials in a way that allows the children (in groups or individually) to explore it autonomously. There shouldn’t be the need of an adult explaining what to do (to allow the children begin exploring and experimenting). The adult should try to give as much space and autonomy to the child and try to be careful in rushing giving responses. Better to ask questions to the children or to let them explain you than to end up telling them every time what is everything or what to do.
  • Focused but open: a) Each station/proposal should tackle adequately the scientific topic to discover/consider. Sometimes this may seem easy but other times it is not clear what is the scientific topic or phenomena that we want children to confront with. Other times there’s too much emphasis on the aesthetic aspects (e.g., when using lights and shadows) but we forget to focus upon the scientific aspect of the phenomena. B) openness/ Multicausality. The stations should not lead to a unique valid answer but to a multiplicity of options. The idea is to confront children with multiple solutions and the possibility of experimenting
  • Quality & endurance of the materials: materials should be of quality, able to resist the different interactions of many children using it.
  • Collaboration/social interaction: science is not (or not only) done by individual geniuses isolated but by working teams with members possessing different competences; some are good in designing experiments, others in observing, others in explaining, others in inferring causes-effects, others in keeping the group together, others in the creative part, others in communicating comprehensively, others in drawing ideas, etc. Promote stations where many children with different competences can use them to help one another and discover as a community of researchers.
  • Natural materials rather than plastic versions of the materials
  • Less is more: Find a balance between offering enough material to explore the phenomena and having an excess of materials and tools that distract from the main focus of the proposal. In this case less is more.
  • Tools: find adequate tools that allow exploration and experimentation to discover possibilities and phenomena. Tools allow doing more things than just looking at (e.g., measure, compare, dismantle, separate or classify carefully, select, put in-out, clean, polish, destroy, put together, observe in detail…)
  • Mere physical manipulation is not experimentationif we want children to really experiment, allow proposals that generate the possibility of making hypothesis, observing causal relation, modifying variables, transformation, obtaining and validating or invalidating hypotheses,… Allow them to do this if they want (in this case sometimes the possibility of being able to transform/spoil  the materials with different tools or procedures helps)
  • Research resources: as in science, sometimes children may want to increase their knowledge of the phenomena if they have near them illustrated children’s books about this phenomena. Allow them to look at them as well, not always children like to enter into action all the time sometimes they like to discover more through images and books.
  • Accessibility/Universal design: ensure the material can be accessible for all, without generating invisible or visible barriers for certain users with specific disabilities
  • Attractive visual presentation: try to present the station organised, in a way that even an adult would be tempted to used if the presentation is attractive enough.
  • Avoid infantilisation, flashy or noisy things, colourful and plastic materials that distract from what is essential
  • Avoid stereotypes or bias in representation: in case there are images, words, etc.

Regarding to what our BA students are doing this year for the Science Fair with children below there’s a list:

– Trajectory: inclined maze to control where the ball must end up

– Technological panel: different locks, gears…

– construction proposal with screws, bolts and nuts

-experiment trays with fine sand and wet sand to see the different properties

– light travels in a straight line (how to make the light reach the target)

– the separation of materials: salt of different sizes

– elasticity: with elastic rubbers to achieve different speeds of the disks

PHOTOS from other years from the EXPERIMENTSTION FAIR in Manresa which can help with ideas:

What’s next?

Before Week 2 You Should…

1.Continue researching the project with a particular focus on the common themes you have identified within your group. It may help to find relevant case studies or existing initiatives that are similar to your early ideas. You can use the resources in the next sprint to help you get started.

2. Start to sketch out some very early ideas. These don’t have to be fully scoped out at this stage only jumping off points to spark discussion in next week’s meeting! Make a note of these early ideas and make sure to bring them to the week 2 session.

3. Keep in touch with your team, throughout the week share any interesting bits of research or ideas you might have. You can use whatever platform you like for this, although you are provided with a group Teams channel and SharePoint. Arrange a meeting.