Science, technology, engineering and maths form an integral part of the world in which we live, they must therefore form an integral part of our early childhood curriculum. In developing an understanding of the world around them, children draw on multiple sources of information to increase their own knowledge.
Have you ever though how close science and art is related? It seems like a strange idea, that two concepts have a seemingly rigid dichotomy could be linked directly. However when you think about the art and craft experiences you set up regularly you can quickly see how they relate. Colour mixing, playdough, bleeding, diluting, drying, all of these are linked back to STEM in one way or another.
A conversation about the role of digital technology in early education settings will draw a wide range of opinion and feeling. Visiting the infant-toddler and preschool centres of Reggio Emilia I was curious as to how this topic would be addressed within the rich creative spaces and the home of the hundred languages.
During a presentation by Sara Marastoni and Lucia Colla I was surprised to learn that computers had been part in the services since the 1980’s. This technology continues to play a leading role but in a way that integrates naturally with children’s social learning environment. Together, nature and digital technology provide the children with information and provocation to develop and explore hypothesis.
Digital technology within the centres of Reggio Emilia does not involve games to play or programs to instruct but rather as tools for observation and research. I observed numerous examples of projectors creating large scale images on screens and walls. Digital microscopes reflected minute detail which, in turn, promoted close observation and shared hypothesis.
To integrate digital technology into our programs we need to look at them as complementary tools rather than stand-alone items. Resources such as Dewey the Document Camera Stand with Microscope and Light can turn an ipad into a digital microscope, allowing children to come together to view incredible images of new or familiar items and add the element of projection to create enormous images for study or interaction. The possibilities of technology such as this is only limited by our ability to explore.
To embed digital technology into our program we need to see it as a tool for research. There are many, arguably perhaps too many, avenues for children to use computer programs and social media sites in their lives. In our education settings however we can harness digital technology as a tool for creating awe and wonder.
With thanks to Rebecca Bolland, Director Clarence Town Preschool, Reggio Emelia Scholar