277 – Little architects develop STEM concepts through block play: An analysis of everyday play using cultural-historical lens

Presentation - ECV2022-277

Little architects develop STEM concepts through block play: An analysis of everyday play using cultural-historical lens

Anamika Devi, RMIT University, Australia (anamika.devi@rmit.edu.au)
Shukla Sikder, Charles Sturt University, Australia (ssikder@csu.edu.au)
Wendy Goff, RMIT University, Australia (wendy.goff@rmit.edu.au)

Background: It has been well established that adults play a crucial role in supporting the learning and development of young children, especially in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). However, little work has demonstrated how this might be achieved in practice, particularly in relation to strategies that support and develop science and engineering concepts in children’s play and everyday experiences. The study presented in this research addresses this gap.

Aim: The key purpose of this presentation is to explore adults’ involvement in children’s constructive imaginative block play and to identify strategies for developing scientific and engineering concepts through play-based learning.

Method: This research was carried out in a western suburb of Melbourne, Australia, and involved  video observation as the key method of data collection. In an intregrated early childhood centre as well as in the children’s home settings, four children (3 to 5 years of age) and their families were involved in 86 hours of video recorded observation. Video data were anaysed through Vygotsky’s cultural-historical theoretical concept of perizevanie (unity of affect and intellect), mediation (subjective and objective sense) and Hedegaard’s three levels of interpretation; common sense, situated practice, and thematic level analysis.

Results: The study demonstrated that using blocks (objective sense) in young children’s play opened opportunities for adults (subjective sense) to be involved in the play for developing scientific and engineering concepts.

Conclusions: Findings from this study demonstrate that the adults’ active positioning (subjective sense) inside the play experiences of children allow the adult to regulate the emotions of the child and develop their understanding of scientific and engineering concepts (perizevanie) to get ready for future learning.

Implications for children and families: To improve children’s STEM knowledge to compete in a global economy, families could play a vital role in supporting STEM learning in everyday practice. This study provides insight into how blocks can be used by adults as a tool for developing children’s STEM based play and to develop children’s STEM skills and understandings.

Implications for practitioners: Understanding the active adult role in STEM-based play assists practitioners to identify strategies that regulate the emotions of diverse children and develop STEM concepts. This study presented in this paper provides practitioners with strategies for understanding how to support families to focus on STEM learning in impactful and sustainable ways.

Key words: early childhood, science and engineering, mediation, perizevanie, blocks play, cultural-historical, pre-school children

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

Scroll to Top