Using STEM toolkits to support young children’s spatial learning

Xinyun HU, Yutong Cecilia LIANG, Yahan HAI

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

This study aims to develop STEM toolkits to improve spatial learning in the early years. The Pedagogical Play-Framework (Edwards, Cutter-Mackenzie, Moore, & Boyd, 2017) was adopted as a conceptual framework to guide teachers in designing STEM toolkits to support children’s spatial skills. Design-based research was applied to investigate in-service teachers’ pedagogical practice. The results of the first stage showed that teachers’ lack of confidence and pedagogical approaches to spatial learning were barriers to design practical toolkits and activities, which matched with the development of children. In the second stage, a professional development program, including pedagogical play-framework and cutting-edge digital technology recourses related to spatial learning, guided teachers to design STEM toolkits and activity plans. For example, involving Google Maps to help children establish a connection between digital technology and real-life. This study also promotes the ways of integrating innovative digital technologies in STEM activities to improve children’s spatial skills, including using digital maps, digital cameras, tablets, and APPs. Findings showed that: 1) with consideration of teachers’ experiences and children’s learning needs, practical STEM toolkits and digital technologies created opportunities or platform of facilitating children’s spatial skills especially in the activities of navigation, map reading, and map creation; 2) children’s spatial skills could be fostered and enhanced by STEM toolkits so that they gained the ability to understand connections of maps and real-life, developing spatial languages using, recognizing symbols and directions, acquiring the ability to solve travel-related problems in daily life and inspiring their interests towards the world. Copyright © 2020 International Conference on Learning and Teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Citation

Hu, X., Liang, Y., & Hai, Y. (2020, December). Using STEM toolkits to support young children’s spatial learning [Zoom]. Paper presented at the International Conference on Learning and Teaching 2020 (ICLT2020): Learning and Teaching in the 21st Century, Hong Kong, China.

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