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100 preschool services selected to receive digital, play-based learning experiences under STEM Australia (ELSA) pilot

Recently, the Australian government announced the selection of 100 preschool services have been selected to participate in the Early Learning STEM Australia (ELSA) pilot from Term 1, 2018.

A total of 888 eligible preschool services applied through an expression of interest process (5 March to 10 April 2017) to take part in the ELSA pilot.

Selected preschools provide a representative mix across geography (all states and territories and a mix of major cities, regional and remote locations) and preschool types (attached to a school, stand-alone or community, and preschool programs within a long day care or early learning centre).

ELSA is one of three early learning initiatives funded under the ‘Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM’ measure, under the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). It includes a variety of initiatives will be introduced to increase the participation of all students and the wider community in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to improve their digital literacy.

ELSA is directed at the earliest stage of education. It is designed to inspire curiosity and engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for preschool aged children.

ELSA includes digital, play-based learning experiences rich in STEM concepts, delivered through a series of digital applications (apps) for tablet devices (iPad and Android).

Children at the 100 pilot preschools will have access to four play-based ELSA apps aligned with the Early Years Learning Framework. The ELSA apps encourage learning beyond the screen through active, child centred experiences that introduce STEM practices, such as exploring location, patterns and problem solving.

The play- based apps support children’s learning and act as a foundation for children to explore STEM concepts. Additionally, an educator app and a family app are also being developed to support preschoolers in the ELSA pilot sites as they learn about STEM.

Pilot preschools will need to commit to providing and supporting tablet devices in their learning environments. An active Internet and Wi-Fi connection will be required to download the resources as they become available throughout 2018.

Pilot preschools will need to commit dedicated time (approximately 40 minutes per week, in accordance with national screen time guidelines) for children to use the apps and experience the program.

Featured image: verkeorg/ CC BY-SA 2.0

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