266 – “Blast off”: Children’s cognition and imagination about the solar system through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based play

Presentation - ECV2022-266

“Blast off”: Children’s cognition and imagination about the solar system through Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) based play

Shukla Sikder, Charles Sturt University, Australia(ssikder@csu.edu.au)

Background: Exploration is exciting for children, and children are curious to explore new places, new objects and new ideas in their everyday life. Learning about the solar system creates interest not only for space scientists or adults but also for young children. Until recently, limited attention has been given to how children could explore the solar system.

Aim: This paper examines how educators created a learning environment and an imaginative sphere for children to explore our solar system through everyday play.

Method: Cultural-historical research methodology has been used to understand children’s play-based context, and digital visual observation has been used to collect data over seven weeks in a regional childcare centre. This paper analysed 120 minutes of video data of a series of three relevant STEM-based play experiences where children (3–5 years) explore and learn about the solar system. The dialectical interactive approach has been used to analyse the data to understand the process of children’s science and engineering learning about the solar system through play.

Results: Children were engaged in exploring the solar system through reading a book called Earth, watching a relevant YouTube clip named the magical bus, building space suits, and exploring their imaginative solar system in their play space with the support of educators. Children learned about the solar system in multiple ways and enjoyed their learning process.

Conclusions: The educators’ intentions were to enhance children’s cognitive knowledge to extend their learning about the solar system, where children were emotionally engaged in their STEM-based play experience. Emotion influences children’s imagination, and in other cases, imagination influences emotions, impacting children’s learning and creativity.

Implications for children and families: You can use everyday materials (bowl as helmet, goggles, mask as oxygen mask) with your children to extend their imagination about the solar system during play.

Implications for practitioners: Educators, your intentional teaching plan that allows children to explore something innovative, exciting and engaging will help you be a confident STEM teacher.

Funding: Charles Sturt University Internal Fund – Faculty Research Establishment Grant.

Key words: early childhood education, STEM, science and engineering, solar system, play, imagination and creativity, emotion, cognition

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Scroll to Top