Emphasising the growing importance of STEM learning in early childhood, PwC has formed a partnership with Little Scientists Australia. The partnership is part of an initiative started by global accountancy giant PwC in 2016: the 21st Century minds (21CM) accelerator program.
PwC is investing $2.5 million to provide support to 20 initiatives with the aim of promoting STEM learning in Australia. PwC is doing this with the future workforce in mind, saying Australia is facing a difficult future with up to 44 per cent of jobs at risk due to digital disruption.
Little Scientists Australia is a not-for-profit program providing training for early childhood educators to introduce STEM learning to children between the ages of 3-6. This is done through workshops which enable educators to provide age-appropriate exploration in STEM fields. The workshops include experiments with water, air, optics and the human body, with new workshops being added yearly. The workshops empower the educators and teachers to facilitate the experiments and the workshops are set up to ensure that they can be carried out with existing, low-cost materials. The workshops are designed to build the confidence of the educator in implementing STEM learning strategies.
Little Scientists run workshops throughout Australia, starting with a workshop on water, after which the educators and learning establishments can choose from a number of different workshops. Upon completing the workshops educators are given a variety of resources and continuing support to carry out the lessons in an active learning environment, allowing children to undertake the actual learning, problem-solving, exploration and research themselves.
This announcement follows on from the Early Learning in STEM: Multimodal learning in the 21st century report released in April 2017. The report, commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training and produced by Victoria University highlights the need for STEM learning in early education with a particular focus on the use of apps and tablets and how they can assist in the development of key skills such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and communication.
PwC’s approach has been to identify a number of organisations they feel are helping improve the quality of and engagement with STEM learning from early learning through to university. In addition to providing financing to expand the reach of the STEM organisations it is partnering with, PwC is also providing dedicated mentors to help these community organisations with the rapid expansion of their operations.
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